How LEED Has Changed Business and Building Design

LEED building design

Over the last 20 years, the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system has changed the way architects, engineers and businesses approach building design.

Its made energy efficiency a greater priority than it once was and brought many of the building design ideas that were locked out in the 1960s and 1970s – daylighting just one of them – back into mainstream architecture.

Best yet, it’s made tens of thousands of companies and millions of employees around the world more aware of the environmental and energy impact that their workplace has on the world as a whole.

In this blog post, we’ll look at four ways that LEED has changed the way businesses, architects, engineers and energy efficiency experts think of building design and how to run a truly environmentally responsible business.

The growth of LEED from 1994 to 2006

Over 12 years, from the beginning of 1994 until 2006, LEED evolved from a single standard applied to new buildings to a detailed, effective system laying out a clear process and philosophy for construction of all types.

It also grew from a small group of just six volunteers into a large organization that’s spread across several countries with almost 20 committees, 200 volunteers and 150 full-time staff – talk about rapid growth.

It’s grown from a standard used only on the most cutting edge of new buildings into one that has been applied to over 7,000 projects throughout the United States and a wide variety of other countries, making its impact truly global.

As LEED grew from 1994 to 2006 and onwards until today, it made several essential priorities – from sustainability to energy efficiency –key components of 21st century architecture and building design.

A focus on energy efficiency

Before LEED, and in particular from 1960 until 1980, energy efficiency was thought of as an afterthought in building design. With energy inexpensive and oil plentiful, a great number of architects and engineers made it the opposite of a priority.

Since the introduction of LEED, energy efficiency has become a massively important part of building design. From daylighting to insulation, using a reasonable amount of energy – never more than required – has become a key principle of building design.

The growth of sustainability

Much like energy efficiency was ignored during the third quarter of the 20th century, sustainability was rarely a priority for property developers and architects until just two decades ago.

With materials abundant and the idea of declining resources rarely considered, few developers made sustainability a priority. Thanks to LEED, sustainable construction is now an important priority for today’s top developers.

More comfortable environments

LEED standards aren’t just good for the environment outside of the building you’re working in; they’re also good for the environment inside. One of the biggest factors in LEED is Indoor Environment Quality – known as IEQ for short.

IEQ extends from air quality to daylighting, and even includes the presence of a nice view. Since indoor environment quality became a part of LEED, it’s grown into a far bigger priority for architects, interior designers and architects around the world.

New energy accountability

With LEED growing from a concern only for the most cutting edge developers into a mainstream rating system, the importance of being sustainable, energy efficient and environmentally friendly has grown from minor to serious.

Today, LEED ratings have made thousands of developers and tens of thousands of buildings more accountable and aware of the importance of giving energy efficient design and environmental responsibility the attention it deserves.

Image Courtesy of: Alastair Wallace /

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