LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a set of guidelines and regulations architects can use when constructing a new building. It’s the most widely used green rating system in the world, available for anything from skyrises to single-family homes.
This certification is broken down into four categories — Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum. LEED Platinum, which requires a building to earn 80 or more points, is not easy to achieve. Let’s take a look at the LEED rating system and some of the best Platinum building examples.
The LEED Ranking System Explained
The U.S. Green Building Council established LEED standards, which utilize a point system. These points are awarded based on factors like location, transportation, water efficiency, energy, materials, indoor air quality and more. To achieve the LEED Certified level, you need at least 40 points. Silver requires 50 points and Gold 60. Platinum certification is the most difficult to achieve.
Studies show construction is responsible for 23% of air pollution, 40% of water pollution and 50% of landfill waste. LEED standards enable projects to reduce resource consumption and pollution. As a result, building owners save money.
Consider the 10 LEED platinum buildings below as examples of maximum sustainability.
1. Gies College of Business
The Gies College of Business is an instructional facility at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. It’s the first business facility at a public university to earn LEED Platinum certification.
The building’s efforts boil down to three main areas — rooftop solar panel installation, energy-efficient heating and cooling and eco-friendly building materials. Since initiating the first LEED campus building in 2009, the university has certified around 10% of their building space.
2. King Street Station
King St. Station in Seattle, Washington, is an excellent example of an older building — rather than a new project — that faced renovations to achieve LEED platinum certification.
As part of renovations, a construction team:
- Fixed the four inoperational clock towers
- Completed seismic and structural upgrades
- Replaced the existing roof with terra cotta tile
- Restored the interior finish and exterior facade
3. The Bank of America Tower
In 2011, The Bank of America Tower was the first skyscraper granted LEED Platinum certification. It recently received V4 Platinum certification, the most stringent ranking.
As a result, the building achieves $947,584 in incentives from the New York Energy Research and Development Authority. It also has an eco-friendly celebrity as a tenant — Al Gore.
4. Taipei 101
In 2015, the building had an occupancy rate of 95.79% — yet they saved 262 gigawatts per hour of electricity. This number is equivalent to 139,083 tonnes of carbon emissions.
In 2016, the skyrise attained a V4 LEED Platinum rating, the first outside of the U.S. — and the only in Taiwan — to do so. According to Rick Fedrizzi, USGBC founder, Taipei 101 is an example of standing tall above competitors without adding a floor.
5. 5.4.7. Arts Center
A disastrous tornado destroyed a significant portion of Greensburg, Kansas. Yet natives took this obstacle as an opportunity to grow. The city council required all new buildings of 4,000 feet or more to be LEED Platinum certified.
The 5.4.7 Arts Center, the first certified building in Kansas, is truly a marvel. It features wind turbines, photovoltaic panels, geothermal climate control and other eco-friendly components.
6. 41 Cooper Square
In New York City, 41 Cooper Square is the first academic building to achieve LEED platinum status. It features radiant heating, cooling ceiling panels, a green roof and labs made of recycled and low-emission materials.
Perforated aluminum steel panels make up the building’s skin. These panels reduce the impact of heat radiation during the summer and insulate the interior during the winter.
7. Northside Elementary School
This elementary three-story school outside Durham, North Carolina, was the first in the state to achieve LEED Platinum certification, scoring 59 out of 79.
Sustainable design strategies include greenway walking paths, a stormwater management system, porous playground surfaces, a vegetated roof area and rooftop solar panels. Plus, builders designed the structure with an east-to-west orientation, which maximizes daylight in classrooms.
8. The Mall of Tripla
The Mall of Tripla, located in Helsinki, Finland, breaks the national record for the most shops in one building. It also breaks the top LEED score of any shopping center in Finland.
One significant feature in this building is the use of strictly LED lights. Compared to similar structures, the mall consumes 40% less energy and clean water. Plus, shoppers can find more than 3,000 bike parking spots, along with 277 charging stations for electric bikes and cars.
9. Taft Information Technology High School
The Taft Information Technology High School was the first new building in Cincinnati to receive LEED Platinum certification. It features one of the largest live vegetated green roofs in the country. It also has an active chilled beam HVAC system, which significantly reduces energy cost and consumption.
The entire building was created using water-saving recycled appliances. As a finishing touch, generous public transportation access is available to and from the building.
10. Toyota Elephant Passage
The Toyota Elephant Passage, an exhibit at the Denver Zoo, is by far the most creative LEED platinum-certified project around. It was awarded accolades for its use of poop. Yes, you read that right.
This exhibit uses a gasification system to turn elephant poop into electricity. This system can convert more than 90% of animal waste into usable energy. As a result, it eliminates more than 1.5 million pounds of trash that would typically head to landfills.
Green buildings are necessary for a sustainable future. LEED is one of the most recognized certification boards in the world. Buildings who achieve Platinum certification, the highest level, can save money and protect the planet.