LEED or Leadership in Energy and Environment Design is a third party certification and building rating program for building performance across several key areas. LEED attempts to measure a building's performance and sustainability across such areas as: optimizing energy efficiency as well as use of renewable energy; efficient and sustainable use of building materials and resources, including reuse, renewability, recycling and durability; innovation of design, incorporation of high recycled and regional content; water conservation; ensuring infrastructure and limiting neighborhood and environmental site impact; indoor air and environmental quality, including occupant comfort; reduction in CO2 emissions; efficient operation with low or reduced maintenance and energy costs. Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), LEED is a voluntary certification which strives to verify and promote sustainable high performance buildings or communities with less environmental impact, improved livability and long term savings. While LEED is still evolving, incomplete and not nearly perfect, building rating systems, certification and verification are raising our awareness and expectations for building performance and helping shift the construction market and demand toward healthy sustainable building, our long-term well-being and environmental responsibility.
Copper used in green building materials and strategic building components contributes to high environmental and building performance in many areas, most of which qualify for credits towards LEED certification of a building. For example Pennsylvania State University's School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (SALA) used over 80,000 lbs (35,000 kgs) of copper in its construction and it was the first building to achieve a gold LEED certification at no additional cost. Most noticeable is the pre-patinated, 95% recycled copper cladding used for the exterior walls as shown above. This green building project used copper extensively for copper's green properties: high recycled content; local or regional availability; durability; high rate of recyclability at end of building's useful life; low or non-existent maintenance costs for copper; workability of copper. To maximize these benefits, in addition to wall cladding, copper was used for all soffits, sun shading and even on ceilings of large atriums. Looking at long term cost factors also ensured copper's prominent role in this green building project. Copper's legendary durability is measured in generations rather than years or decades with little to no maintenance required throughout it's lifetime. Virtually 100% of the copper can be recycled upon eventual demolition or replacement of the building and recycled copper maintains 95% of the value for new mined copper. Copper also has the best heat and electrical conductive properties of any viable metal as well as superior resistance to corrosion. Copper's many attributes are reflected in copper's contribution to green building high performance with 13 possible LEED credits across 3 performance areas. Copper's aesthetic qualities also ensure green building architects achieve attractive, visually appealing green LEED designs without sacrificing any efficiency, performance or environmental objectives.
Copper, Green Building and Green Certification Links:
Building Green: How Copper Can LEED the Way http://www.copper.org/environment/green/casestudies/building_green.html
Canadian Copper Association – Green Building http://www.coppercanada.ca/greenbuilding.htm
North American Copper in Architecture Awards http://www.ccbda.org/NACIA2009/main/naciamain.html
North American Initiative on Copper Architectural Applications http://www.ccbda.org/architectural.htm
European Copper in Architecture Awards http://www.copperconcept.org/
Copper Building Products – International Site http://www.copperinfo.com/cproducts/building.html
U.S. Green Building Council – LEED Certification http://www.usgbc.org/
Green Building Rating Systems - Worldwide http://www.worldgbc.org/green-building-councils/green-building-rating-tools
BREEAM: Environmental Assessment Method for Buildings Around The World http://www.breeam.org/
Reference Source for Environmental Products and Services http://www.greenbooklive.com/
Green Guide to Specification - Best Environmental Performance with Life Cycle Analysis http://www.bre.co.uk/greenguide/podpage.jsp?id=2126
Features of ENERGY STAR Qualified New Homes http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=new_homes.nh_features
EPA Indoor Air Quality - Indoor airPLUS Program http://epa.gov/indoorairplus/construction_specifications.html