Sustainability Corner : A look into LEED

Johanna Poppel

Student recognizes global problem with U.S. green building standards

In the late 1990s, the nonprofit U.S. Green Building Council set framework for implementing measurable environmental sustainable building design by using  Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification to rate the sustainability of buildings.

Various categories are in consideration for LEED certification: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality and innovation in design.

LEED certification progresses from basic to silver, gold and platinum based on these categories.

At UMKC, the Herman and Dorothy Johnson Residence Hall has basic certification and the Student Union is Gold LEED certified.

The USGBC has also been responsible for certifying projects in 30 other countries.

“LEED happened in the late 1990s in the U.S. In 2005, it tried to go global. This is where a problem started,” said MPA student Sunny Sanwar.

While most industrial countries have their own sustainable standards for buildings, developing countries do not, and they pay application fees to the USGBC for recognition. Sanwar emphasized that U.S. criteria for sustainable development can’t be universal.

“I wanted to make a more country-specific rating system. It needed to be more specific to the climate and environment in the country and would help the country’s own economy,” Sanwar said.

From 2008 to 2010 during his engineering undergraduate career at the University of Kansas, Sanwar spent summers on the board of the Bangladesh Green Building Council to develop sustainable building standards that are unconventional to Bangladesh’s environment and natural resources.

“For example, certain window angles on houses would help heat homes in the U.S., but that would be wasteful in places where they don’t need the sun’s energy to heat homes,” Sanwar said.

The starting goal of the council was unifying architects, engineers and professional building organizations in Bangladesh.  They could then promote national certification and market positive aspects of sustainable building practices, such as energy efficiency, to clients.

Since Sanwar has been on the board, one of the biggest problems has been the country’s limited resource base.

“Developing countries are having trouble with natural resources and using them efficiently, but they don’t have any national or government support,” Sanwar said.

Sanwar is on the advisory board for the council and has noticed  progress in past years.

“So far, Bangladesh has become more efficient with their resources. With time I believe they will be able to shift to a sustainable market,” Sanwar said.

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