LEED Certified?

Posted on behalf of C0117

To become a LEED Certified Interior Designer or not? This is a question that many if not all junior and senior level interior design students have been ask to think about or at least I know that I have along with my peers. As many of us didn’t know entirely what all LEED entailed, many might come to the decision to take the LEED exam to boost their resume and make themselves stand apart in a competitive industry. Not such a bad reason right? After all, we are continuously told to find ways to make us stand out in a interview. What I found myself asking myself was, “Should I study this material that I don’t really understand completely and memorize all these guidelines just to become certified in something that supposedly supports the current trend in green building?”

I chose not to take the LEED exam this past year mostly because they were going through the process of changing the exam due to new changes to LEED Certification of Buildings, and I wanted to wait until the new test had come out along with new study material. After this week’s discussion over the different certification programs that are out there for green building, and after watching the LEED movie about the LEED building built in South Baltimore, I have a new take on LEED and these other certification programs than I previously did.

What is LEED exactly? How do you determine if one green building is “greener” than another? LEED is set up on a point system and everything has points based on their impact on the environment. What I found particularly interesting during the movie which also cam into discussion during class was how these points were weighted and how material selections were where many of the Baltimore projects points came form. While material selection is important and can effect the environment greatly, the movie during class showed a great example of the fault of some material selections and their effects on the environment. Builders and developers become so caught up in the material choices that are good for the environment such as flooring from Brazil and glue that has very low VOC’s. This all sounds great in theory but neglects to address the underlying environmental issues and economic issues of these products. The shipping of foreign products emits a lot of energy and waste into the environment. While low VOC products such as the glue used in the Baltimore project, had to start over on the flooring because the glue was not sticking. The ripping out of the flooring and redoing it was costly and time consuming.

While many of these green certifications sound great and are definitely getting people in the industry thinking in the right direction, they have a lot of faults that those of us in the industry need to be aware of. Maybe the answer isn’t to get rid of these certifications but to adjust them and tweak them to be tools to help guide builders and designer. Some might argue that all of us in the industry should be LEED Certified, but I feel that the time and money that is needed to be a LEED Certified Designer or have your building LEED Certified ends up just taking away and distracting those involved in the industry from the real problems that our environments are facing.

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About Dr. Joyner Armstrong

Associate Professor, Oklahoma State University
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