What a novel concept…dorms that are carbon neutral! In some places, like in North Carolina it’s a reality at Warren Wilson College. Their EcoDorm houses 36 undergraduate students and is one of two dorms in the nation with a platinum LEED rating. But what does that mean?
LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. It was developed in 1998 by the U.S. Green Building Council as the Green Building Rating System. It was created to promote environmental awareness among those who can have the biggest hand in the matter: government agencies, architects, engineers, builders, and developers. To be LEED certified means: the construction project or building utilized environmentally friendly building practices during construction or remodeling. “LEED certification can be attained on four different levels, which are determined by a credit, or point, system. The levels of LEED certification are Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum;” platinum being the best.
So what are environmentally friendly building practices? It really comes down to the materials used to build or renovate the building along with creating or updating a place to have a smaller carbon footprint. Using eco-friendly paints or using wood NOT cut from a pristine rain forest are good choices. For more common green materials visit here. Building the house or renovating it to have a water collection system that brings the water back into the house is another great option and one that the EcoDrom in N.C. uses. Using properly insulated windows, non toxic insulation for your walls or ceilings, along with a living roof all add to making the place greener.
Althought I don’t own a home, I plan on moving into a duplex before school is out. I am excited to green-novate the new place! Some easy ways to do that will be by replacing lightbulbs with LED or CFL lightbulbs, setting up a rain water collection system, and using eco-friendly paint. Depending on the state of the windows we may try to add some eco-friendly selant to improve insulation. I’ll keep you updated when I start that process along with the growth of my future garden.
Oh, and I hope you had a productive, eco-friendly Earth Day!