Schaus-Vorhies – Leadership In Energy And Environmental Design (LEED)

Among the many services provided by the Schaus-Vorhies Companies is General Contracting. We can design and build buildings for every kind of client, from large commercial and industrial facilities to small residential projects. We also work with other, larger general contractors for all sorts of projects, from metal to wood construction.

Schaus-Vorhies Contracting is also committed to promoting more sustainable living and construction throughout our home state of Iowa. In pursuit of this goal, we are happy to participate in projects that conform to LEED standards. We have several projects completed throughout Iowa that meet the strictest standards for green construction.

Clients may wonder why they should look into asking us to construct a LEED-certified building. After all, getting LEED-certified is not cheap and can run into thousands of dollars. There are, however, several benefits to getting LEED-certified that can justify the expense in the long run. Before we get started, though, what exactly is a LEED certification?

LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. Beginning in 1993, LEED is a set of standards for environmentally friendly buildings. At first, it was just one set of standards, but now there are different standards for a variety of different types of construction. These rating systems apply to all phases of a building’s development, from the maintenance to the construction to the design phases.

Now that we have a basic understanding of what it means to be LEED-certified, what are the benefits of being able to put that on the side of your building?

Lower operating costs are at the top of this list. One of the benefits of any environmentally friendly construction is that energy usage is greatly reduced, leading to much lower operating costs in the long run. This is because the structure built with LEED in mind is made to use much less energy, reducing the owner’s dependency on fossil fuels. Things like natural lighting wherever possible and energy-sipping LED light where it doesn’t mitigate electricity—high grades of insulation and placement of windows to maximize heating cuts back on natural gas.

Other systems that adjust humidity also help a great deal. If you have ever heard and rolled your eyes at the notion of “dry heat,” you already understand the concept. If the humidity is lower, the temperature feels lower, meaning that you can afford to keep the thermostat higher in the summer, which of course, uses less air conditioning. Conversely, if the humidity is a bit higher in the winter, it allows the temperature to be kept slightly lower in the winter. The net result is much lower heating costs

Water usage is minimized through the installation of waterless urinals, water sensors that cut the flow off at predetermined intervals, landscaping with flora that doesn’t require significant water, and other things as simple as water faucets with aerators. Such practices can cut a building’s water usage by more than 50% what it would have been otherwise.

All of these features to reduce energy usage combine to a significant reduction in energy and water bills, which adds up over time.

It doesn’t have to be all about energy reduction, either. Where possible, a building can also generate its own energy. Solar panels, for example, have come a long way in recent years and are now viable options for providing sustainable energy for several buildings. We at Schaus-Vorhies have even put this idea into practice at our manufacturing facility. With our solar panels, we can provide for all our energy needs for the year. Most months of the year, we are even putting energy back into the grid.

Depending on the specific geology of your location, geothermal is also an option, providing at least a part of the heat for your building straight from the earth itself. While all of this, of course, adds to the upfront costs, the savings over the years will pile up until those initial investments begin to pay for themselves.

With all this in mind, it is easy to see why building to conform to LEED standards is not just right for the environment but is also suitable for your bottom line. There are many other reasons to consider conforming to LEED standards for your next construction project. We’ll look at some of them next time.