How LEED Protects the Environment and Human Health
Every Caribbean island has a big, blocky building in the heart of town that is testament to outdated building practices. It’s like an obese old man who thinks that staying healthy means he has to drink a quart of milk a day, wear an undershirt, and stay out of the morning dew. LEED has come to change all that.
LEED, or Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, is a globally recognized symbol of excellence in green building that has come to change outdated and unhealthy building practices.
LEED certification ensures electricity cost savings, lower carbon emissions and healthier environments for the places we live, work, learn, play and worship. LEED’s global sustainability agenda is designed to achieve high performance in key areas of human and environmental health, acting on the triple bottom line – putting people, the planet, and profit first.
Beyond helping buildings realize their environmental benefits and their resulting financial savings, LEED also helps buildings to realize a wide variety of human health benefits.
LEED strategies focused on indoor environmental quality, health impacts of materials, ventilation, lighting, thermal comfort, smoking and outdoor green space all share strong affiliations with human health. LEED’s integrated approach promotes healthier sites for construction workers, occupants and passersby.
LEED strategies intended to provide on-site green space, natural lighting and ample views of the outdoors all could potentially benefit human mental health and productivity. Biophilia, or instinctive links between humans and other forms of life, and biophilic design have been shown to positively impact building occupants by reducing stress, increasing happiness, reducing fatigue and increasing productivity. Smoking restrictions and indoor air quality requirements also promote healthier indoor and outdoor environments, especially for those with existing respiratory conditions.
Health impacts of building materials are also prioritized in LEED by incorporating Health Product Declarations (HPDs) and Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs). A credit for bicycle facilities also promotes both exercise and a zero-emission form of transportation.
All building typologies can benefit from these LEED strategies to have a positive impact on its occupants’ health and wellbeing.