Houston is an ongoing mess of construction. From the ever-expanding interstate and highways to new office parks, strip malls, and houses, it would seem as if the city will never reach completion. One of these new office buildings, BP Project Rodeo, a part of the BP America Westlake complex, is hoping to become the greenest of green buildings. Upon completion, BP America hopes to achieve a platinum level LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. This all sounds very impressive, so let's break down exactly what an LEED certification entails and why more businesses are hoping to obtain one.
LEED levels are based on accumulating points, 26 points being the minimum to acheive certification starting at the silver level, and platinum being highest level with 52-69 points. LEED certification begins with air quality. Buildings can accumulate increased points when non-toxic cleaning materials are used, along with "low-emitting" glues, paints, and finishes. BP will incorporate these low-odor materials, along with an under-the-floor air delivery system to increase it's air quality. Another step to becoming LEED certified includes improving a building's ventilation system to prevent drowsiness in conference rooms. Better ventilation reduces the buildup of carbon dioxide, which makes people sleepy according to Greg Kats, a managing director from Good Energies.
Improvements in green buildings give workers control over their comfort. Individual thermostats in each office and lamps on everyone's desks rather than overhead fluorescent lights gives employees options for temperature and lighting. Hopefully, employees would only use the energy they need, decreasing waste and increasing the general morale in an office place.
In BP's Project Rodeo, a 400-gallon storage tank will be kept on site to collect rainwater that will be used for toilets and irrigation of the property. Electricity and hot water will be co-generated at a power plant also on site, decreasing costs and carbon emissions. A good amount of energy will also come from solar panels located on the roof. There are numerous other sustainable components to the project, all of which will hopefully bring the building's LEED certification to the platinum level, making it the only building in the city of Houston to achieve the platinum level.
These are just a few components of becoming LEED certified. Further detailed information can be found here.