Sustainable buildings becoming commonplace in Orange County

The desire to go green is shared by many businesses and homeowners across California. While people might consider purchasing some of the homes for sale in Orange County because these properties have eco-friendly features, they may also notice massive buildings that showcase the benefits of sustainable designs throughout the area.

According to The Orange County Register, many companies are developing buildings that are properly certified according to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Rating System. Achieving this status represents companies' drive to reduce their carbon footprints and save money on monthly energy expenses.

"LEED certification has become a significant market value characteristic," Edward Kweskin, chairman of the Orange County chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), told the newspaper. "It might take a company about three to five years to pay back the first costs of achieving LEED status. But after that, the savings go to the bottom line."

An internationally recognized green building program, LEED helps businesses create structures that are healthy spaces for occupants. LEED projects have been completed in 135 countries.

How can Orange County businesses earn LEED certification for their buildings?
It takes a step-by-step process for companies to get LEED certification for their buildings.

First, business owners must complete a certification application. This form varies depending on the type of building and the LEED credits companies are attempting to pursue.

Businesses need to register their projects with the USGBC, submit their completed forms and await application review. When companies receive approval, they can confirm that their buildings are officially LEED certified.

The news source notes that more Orange County businesses and homes are being declared LEED certified. In 2012, there were 144 Orange County projects that achieved some type of LEED status. In contrast, only a few LEED projects were finished in this county when the chapter started seven years ago.

"Currently, it costs a minimum of $7,000 extra for a LEED-rated home - depending on several factors - which isn't much considering the cost of an entire home," the owner of a LEED certified home in Orange County told the news source.

The increasing emphasis on sustainability could have a major effect on Orange County residents. Reductions in energy consumption could help the local environment over an extended period of time, and may help property owners lower their monthly electricity expenses.