The USGBC (United States Green Building Council) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that works to promote the design, construction, and assessment of cost-efficient, energy-saving green buildings. The LEED certification system is a program that operates within the USGBC. For more information about the USGBC, visit their website.
LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is an internationally recognized green building rating system.
“LEED provides third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built using strategies aimed at improving performance across all the metrics that matter most: energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts. Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), LEED provides building owners and operators a concise framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions.”
Rieth Village earned 55 points under LEED version 2.1 to become the 42nd platinum certified building in the country. Click here to see a point-by-point breakdown of how Rieth Village became platinum certified.
Rieth Village Earns LEED® Platinum Certification
From left to right: Luke Gascho (Merry Lea), Mark Souder (Congressman), George Morrison (Architect), Mac Williams (USGBC Indiana Chapter), Michael McKay (Architect), Holly Hunter (General Contractor), and Jim Brenneman (Goshen College President) pose for a photo at the platinum certification ceremony in 2007.
Construction for Rieth Village began in May of 2005, was completed in April of 2006, and earned LEED platinum certification on December 31, 2007. Rieth Village earned a total of 55 points in the rating system, making it the first building project in Indiana, and the 42nd building project in the United States, to receive platinum certification.
LEED ratings are awarded on a point scale. A building project can earn points through various categories, which include Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy & Atmosphere, Materials & Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality, and Innovation & Design.
For a point-by-point breakdown of how Rieth Village earned its 55 points, Take the LEED Tour.
Could Rieth Village have gotten points in other ways?
Yes! One of the exciting aspects of green design is the unique and innovative thinking used to construct environmentally-friendly buildings. Although all projects have energy-saving and eco-conscious objectives in common, there are many paths to meeting these objectives, which means that no two LEED building projects are alike.
For example, when designers where considering which type of “cool roof” to put on Rieth Village, they had a choice of aluminum roofing, a vegetative green roof, and a variety of other options. Considering that Rieth Village’s water system was contingent on rainwater harvesting, the designers opted for aluminum roofing that would collect water for the cistern. In addition, RV wanted to install photovoltaic panels on the roof, which is difficult on a roof with vegetation.
The aluminum roofing chosen for Rieth Village saves energy by reflecting light from the sun and keeping the building cool, is recyclable, and allows for rainwater collection. Other green building projects with different goals in mind may opt for a green roof instead of aluminum, but both paths can earn points in the LEED certification process.
Another example of options during the design process was our decision not to use composting toilets. Because of the 15,000 gallon cistern used to harvest rainwater for flushing toilets, water shortage was not a problem in our case, which is one reason some contractors choose composting toilets.
Why did Merry Lea seek LEED certification?
It is true that buildings can be environmentally-friendly and energy-efficient without going through a third-party certification process. This is also the case for educational institutions: universities don’t need to have accreditation to offer good academics, but choose the value of an outside verification system.
In the case of the green building industry, going through a third party evaluation system provides a standardized method for recognizing efforts in innovative green design. In addition, going through the LEED certification process makes the innovative design techniques used to design Rieth Village more readily available to other homeowners, builders, and colleges interested in building green.