In the commercial construction industry, there are many different ways go green, from choosing sustainable materials to smart building designs that reduce a facility’s environmental footprint. But with all the different words and certifications out there, it can be confusing to understand the difference between a certified green building and one that’s sustainable.

Overall, the goal of a LEED-certified building and a sustainable building is the same — to reduce the environmental impact a building has, whether it be during the construction phase or in terms of energy use after it is built.

The differences really come down to the details. We’ll start with what LEED is — it stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and it’s the most widely used green building rating system in the world. Basically, LEED is a certification program that assesses building design and construction based on things like energy efficiency, water usage, air quality, building materials used, environmental factors and responsible land use. A project can pursue LEED certification by earning points across different categories. The points then determine the building’s LEED rating: certified, silver, gold or platinum.

LEED focuses on green construction and green design of a building, but the certification does not have a rating for after the project is complete. It’s possible the tenants of a LEED-certified building are using more energy or water than tenants in other buildings, despite design efforts to reduce usage.

Despite that, LEED certification is seen as a good way for a building’s owner to show off their dedication to the environment and serves as a good PR move.

But not every project can achieve LEED certification. That’s where sustainable building practices come in. Choices made during the design and construction process of a commercial construction project can have a major impact on the building’s environmental footprint, even if those choices don’t garner LEED certification.

At Miller Architects and Builders in St. Cloud, we practice sustainability in everything we do, which includes staying up to date on the latest sustainable building technologies. This allows us to work with you to meet all your green-building goals.

One of the things Miller Architects and Builders does to design and build more environmentally friendly facilities is tactfully placing windows, skylights, and atriums to allow more natural light into the building. This can help reduce energy costs and improve employee happiness.

Miller Architects and Builders is committed to helping you meet your green-building goals, whether it’s LEED certification or sustainable solutions to reduce the building’s carbon footprint. For more information about our sustainable design and building practices, contact us today at 320-251-4109.