Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a certification system that is recognized around the world. LEED certification is designed to encourage using recyclable and reusable materials when building homes and commercial structures. LEED does not certify, endorse or promote specific building products [source: LEED FAQs]. Rather, the program certifies building and neighborhood projects.
LEED is not just about the materials used in these projects, but the entire process from the planning stage to site selection and development, design innovation, indoor environmental quality and water and energy efficiency [source: U.S. Green Building Council]. The program encourages product and service manufacturers to evaluate and document how their products help building projects obtain LEED certification. When it comes to materials and resources, the LEED program looks at whether the project uses products that are sustainably grown, harvested, produced and transported and promotes waste reduction, especially at the source of the product [source: U.S. Green Building Council].
Certification by organizations such as Greenguard, Green Seal or Scientific Certification Systems can help ensure materials earn credits toward project LEED certification. These programs often maintain lists of certified products by category, such as construction materials and equipments, paints and coatings or household products.
Green products have become easier than ever to find. You can look for the certification seals mentioned by LEED or other reputable programs. Green building materials also are more affordable than ever [source: Portland Online]. You can reduce the need for lumber by using renewable resources for flooring and decking, such as natural linoleum or recycled glass tiles. In addition, a homebuilder can reduce pollution from transportation by buying local products whenever possible -- these products, along with those manufactured in environmentally sound ways -- are called low impact. It also helps to use products with low toxicity. Finally, consumers can reduce building waste by recycling leftover wood, metal and cardboard. In fact, sometimes being green is less about what you purchase and more about what you reuse. It's also about being informed; a little bit of upfront work and time can save you money and ensure your new construction or remodel meets LEED standards.
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