In 2001 The United States Green Building Council (USGBC) launched a sustainable building initiative call LEED, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.
This program was designed to inspire construction of healthy, environmental friendly spaces. The benefits include saving energy, water, resources, minimize waste and support the health of the employees.
While most LEED buildings are commercial buildings and not residential, the results are impressive. And even though most people aren’t familiar with LEED, over 5 million people have stepped into a LEED building every day (https://new.usgbc.org/leed).
There are several LEED buildings in the Harrisonburg area. Most are on the campuses of JMU and EMU. Sentara RMH is a LEED building and is one of the top 50 green hospitals in the USA. (http://www.gbig.org/search/advanced).
Impressed? Check this out:
There are 92,000 LEED projects underway in the world.
2 million square feet of construction space is certified LEED every day.
Some of the well-known LEED buildings are the One World Trade Center (it is the tallest in the US standing at 1776 feet high). Both the Clinton and George W. Bush Presidential Center are LEED certified.
According the USGBC’s 2015 Economic Impact study(go.usbc.org), by 2018 LEED construction is expected to create 3.3 million jobs, generate 190.3 billion in labor force,” $12 billion in energy savings, $149.5 million in water savings, 715.3 million in maintenance savings, and 54.2 in waste savings. “(On Common Ground, How LEED Has Rocked The Built Environment” by GM Fillsko.
We built our house in 2001, and the only thing that we knew about energy efficiency was 2×6 outside walls and insulation. We also spent a lot of money on two geo thermal heat pumps. So imagine my dismay when my great room always felt drafty and cold and my electric bill was over $4oo in February.
I learned through trial and error over the years about air leaks. The biggest one turned out to be our fireplace, even with the damper closed. We had painters in one windy, cold, spring day. The plastic covering the fireplace was literally being sucked up the chimney. I knew the damper was closed, it did not matter, it was like having an open window. I had tried a “chimney sock” the year before (a plastic bubble that you place up your flue that acts like a plug) and I ended up with soot everywhere included my face and hair. That was a $40 mistake.
So this time I put my creative juices to work and designed a plug that fit over the opening of the fireplace and had it custom made. It is made of tempered glass and has double gaskets and is locked into place. It is attractive and functional, and now my house is more comfortable and my heating bill is acceptable, because the heat stays inside.