Taking the LEED

LEED, meaning Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, has quickly become the benchmark for ‘green’ construction projects.  

Developed by the United States Green Building Council in 2000, “LEED certification provides independent, third-party verification that a building, home or community was designed and built using strategies aimed at achieving high performance in key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality”, according to the Council’s website.

While many buildings in Grand Cayman incorporate LEED standards and aim for resource conservation, only a handful are actually LEED certified.

The Government Administration Building was the first building in Cayman to receive LEED certification. Until last year, outside of the United States and its protectorates, only commercial buildings were eligible to receive LEED certification. In 2011, LEED International established a pilot programme for residential structures in the Cayman Islands, China and Saudi Arabia.
In fall 2011, owners moved into the first LEED International-certified home in Cayman. The residence, called Sailfish Estate in Sunrise Landing, was developed by GreenTech (Cayman) Ltd.

As part of the 2011 Governor’s Award for Design and Construction Excellence in the Cayman Islands, judges gave a special commendation for excellence to Light House Point, an oceanfront condominium complex at North West Point in West Bay.

Light House Point is the first development in Cayman to be built to full LEED standards. The complex achieves energy savings by using power from solar, wind and propane.

More than renewable energy

The LEED concept embraces more than just using solar power or being energy efficient. Projects are awarded credits toward LEED certification according to how they rate in the following categories: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, location and linkages, awareness and education, innovation in design, and regional priority.

The sustainable sites category discourages development on previously undeveloped land; seeks to minimize a building’s impact on ecosystems and waterways; encourages regionally appropriate landscaping; rewards smart transportation choices; controls stormwater runoff; and promotes reduction of erosion, light pollution, heat island effect and construction-related pollution.

The goal of the water efficiency category is to encourage smarter use of water, inside and out. Water reduction is typically achieved through more efficient appliances, fixtures and fittings inside and water-conscious landscaping outside.

The energy and atmosphere category encourages a wide variety of energy-wise strategies: commissioning; energy use monitoring; efficient design and construction; efficient appliances, systems and lighting; the use of renewable and clean sources of energy, generated on-site or off-site; and other innovative measures.

The materials and resources category encourages the selection of sustainably grown, harvested, produced and transported products and materials. It promotes waste reduction as well as reuse and recycling, and it particularly rewards the reduction of waste at a product’s source.

The indoor environmental quality category promotes strategies that improve indoor air as well as those that provide access to natural daylight and views and improved acoustics.

The locations and linkages category encourages building on previously developed or infill sites and away from environmentally sensitive areas. Credits reward homes that are built near already-existing infrastructure, community resources and transit – in locations that promote access to open space for walking, physical activity and time outdoors.

The awareness and education category encourages home builders and real estate professionals to provide homeowners, tenants and building managers with the education and tools they need to understand what makes their home green and how to make the most of those features.

The innovation in design category provides bonus points for projects that use innovative technologies and strategies to improve a building’s performance well beyond what is required by other LEED credits, or to account for green building considerations that are not specifically addressed elsewhere in LEED. This category also rewards projects for including a LEED Accredited Professional on the team to ensure a holistic, integrated approach to the design and construction process.

Additionally, regional priorities have been identified for specific areas. A project that earns a regional priority credit will earn one bonus point in addition to any points awarded for that credit. In Cayman, regional priorities include optimising energy performance, water efficient landscaping and water use reduction.


Courtney Platt