From the June/July 2008 Issue:

When To Hire a LEED Professional

Barbara Savini, allied ASID Member and Certified Sustainable Building Adviser shares her thoughts.

"Before you hire a professional who is accredited with know -ledge of sustainable design or building, here are a few things you should know.

The LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) program, which is administered by the U.S. Green Building Council, is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high- performance green buildings. These buildings are healthy for the environment and the people who live and work in them. Architects, builders, and high-end homeowner’s seek LEED certification for its prestige, tax abatements, and zoning benefits. A LEED Accredited Professional will guide you through the design and construction process to make sure your project meets the standards.

A new program allows interior designers to study toward accreditation as a Certified Sustainable Building Adviser. This accreditation, administered by the National Sustainable Building Program, follows the criteria for LEED certification but allows a designer to simply help a homeowner with specific needs. For example, a client with chemical and allergen sensitivities is naturally concerned about indoor air quality. A CSBA would guide the design of an HVAC system to include a separate trunk for fresh-air exchange, suggest ultraviolet lights inside the returns to eliminate bacteria, advise the addition of specific air purifiers and filters, and eliminate cabinetry, paint, furniture, and carpets that off-gas. Another example: If a client plans to remodel out of concern for the environment (a term called regreen), a CSBA would suggest the latest in energy-efficient appliances, windows, and lighting as well as environmentally friendly flooring, countertops, furniture, carpets, and more.

Though a CSBA has similar knowledge to the LEED AP, the two certifications are mutually exclusive. The LEED AP’s goals are to assist a builder in garnering a LEED rating (the score that determines the building’s efficiency level, the highest rating being Platinum) The CSBA’s goals are to assist the architect, builder, or homeowner with an environmentally friendly design tailored to specific needs, taking into account solar and wind exposure; heating, cooling, and lighting needs; water conservation; indoor air quality; and appropriate sustainable products.

Our resources are being depleted at such an alarming rate, we can no longer afford to design with aesthetics as our primary consideration. Studies show the atmosphere inside most homes is more toxic than it is outside, so it’s encouraging to see the design community rally around this movement to improve our health and the planet’s. As an interior designer and an environmentalist, there is nothing more professionally satisfying than to create a beautiful, practical, forward-thinking design that has a positive effect on the client and our world.
For more information on the LEED program, visit the U.S. Green Building Council website at For information on the CSBA program, visit the National Sustainable Building Adviser Program website at" - DNJ

- Barbara Savini allied ASID member, Certified Sustainable Building Adviser, and owner of For Interiors Divine in Newtown, Pennsylvania