E & E Awarded the Platinum LEED Certification

By Joe Zazzera, LEED AP, GRP | March 22, 2010 | topics: press release, LEED credit, use of indoor plants

The Ecology and Environment (E & E) Headquarters in Lancaster, New York was recently awarded Platinum LEED Certification in part through the use of indoor plants.

Credit for the use of live plants indoors was given under LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), a third party rating system offered through the US Green Building Council (USGBC). Points were awarded in the category of Innovation in Operation and Maintenance, under LEED for Existing Buildings 2.0.

The specific credit was for the Biophilic Connection to plant life found in this building, which supports the argument that human beings need to feel connected to the natural environment in order to enjoy a sense of psychological, physical and social well being.  Biophilia directly confronts the issue of aesthetics and our evolved sense of beauty. The patterns, forms, textures and colors of nature provide abundant models that can be used in building and product design to enhance their aesthetic appeal, not just their functionality and efficiency. Incorporating this natural sense of beauty into this building made it not only greener in the environmental sense, but also greener in a human sense.

Key points cited in the submittal were live plant’s ability to filter VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds), uptake carbon dioxide during photosynthesis, and release fresh oxygen into the atmosphere. E & E used information from GPGB.Org’s extensive library of resources to back up their research and submittal.

Unlike Australia’s ‘Green Star’ green building rating system, the current USGBC LEED system does not yet offer a specified direct credit for the inclusion of live plant applications. Within the current LEED section titled “Innovation in Design” it is possible for plants to be part of a specially developed use.

It is widely recognized that plants in the workplace offer more than just aesthetic value.  In fact, research science and studies have shown that in addition to improving indoor air quality they help reduce stress, enhance employee attitudes, and increase productivity.

For more information on the many health and environmental benefits of using living plants indoors visit www.gpgb.org.