Here in Columbus, we're seeing an emergence of LEED-certified buildings. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

Here in Columbus, we're seeing an emergence of LEED-certified buildings. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

As a third-party, green building Rating System, LEED has become a nationally accepted standard for environmentally friendly buildings. While LEED-certified buildings promote an overall eco-conscious mindset, the focus is on five areas in particular--sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.

Two major green renovation projects currently in progress include Ohio State University's Thompson Library and the Lazarus building in downtown Columbus. The Lazarus project is currently ranked as a Gold-level LEED venture, and is heading the revitalization campaign to preserve and restore historic downtown Columbus. Reconstruction of this massive space commenced in 2004, and it now hosts three major tenants.

Similarly, LEED certification is taking off with residences. I've mentioned in the past that according to the EPA, "indoor air quality is now two to five times worse than outdoor air quality." This knowledge is prompting individuals to come to terms with indoor air pollution as a major health concern. To create healthier residential living spaces, consider investing your time and money in LEED certification.

There are four levels of LEED certification for homes--certified, silver, gold and platinum--all of which are based on a point scale with a maximum of 136 points. Certification can be attained by application through the United States Green Building Council.

What does LEED certification for your home entail? The LEED home checklist covers everything from air quality to appliance efficiency. Here are some standards LEED lays out for those interested in becoming certified:

Reduced demand for irrigation

Drought-tolerant vegetation

High-efficiency fixtures and fittings

ENERGY STAR appliances

Radon-resistant construction

Effective insulation

The benefits of a LEED certified home are far reaching. Not only does it provide a healthy space for you and your family, but it drastically cuts down on energy and water bills. This in turn adds resale value to your home and helps the environment. It's really a win-win situation.

Some individuals are apprehensive about financing such an expensive undertaking. But over time, the initial costs are balanced out by the money saved in utilities and resale.

For more information on how to "green" your home, check out Real Living's Green Program at or investigate USGBC's Green Home Guide at

To become LEED certified, there's a small fee for registration and another nominal fee for certification. To access these rates and additional information, check out the U.S. Green Building Council's Web site at or contact your local agent.

Harley E. Rouda Jr. is the CEO of Real Living, one of the nation's fastest-growing real estate companies.

Harley E.

Rouda Jr.