If you’ve ever dealt with an architect or interior designer in recent years, chances are you’ve heard the term LEED floating around. Now, just what exactly is LEED? It stands for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design and is internationally recognized as an eco-friendly building certification system. The third-party verification confirms that a building or community was designed to improve metrics such as: energy saving, water efficiency, CO2 emission reduction and indoor environmental quality.

Since it’s development in 1998 by the U.S. Green Building Council, LEED has grown to comprise of over 14,000 projects in the United States and 30 countries around the world covering 1.062 billion square feet of development area. Furthermore, the Green Building Certification Institute was created by the U.S. Green Building Council to make a series of exams that allows architects to be accredited for their knowledge of the LEED rating system.

With such a brilliant certification system in place for architects, people wonder why the same standards aren’t applied to the field of graphic design which in many cases can use tremendous amounts of paper. AIGA Center for Sustainable Design offers some solutions:

1. Choose a sustainable, LEED-certified office to work in a sign a long-term lease
Try to lease an office that is close to a bus line or subway. This will help the environment by providing employees more convenient routes public transportation in oppose to driving individually in their own automobiles. Also, it will save them from dealing with the headache of traffic in the morning! Having a long term lease will also reduce the number of times you have to move and therefore replace building materials and furnishings. Just make sure you choose an office you love that is LEED-certified and has energy efficient systems.

2. Utilize energy efficient computers and digital technology
Reduce your carbon footprint by using energy efficient systems. This can be done by purchasing Energy Star approved appliances. Most newer appliances are Energy Star rated so if you’re someone who constantly keeps up-to-date with the latest software this shouldn’t be hard to achieve.

3. Work with vendors and material produced in a 500 mile radius
You can use this guideline to not only help the environment by reducing the distance your materials need to travel, but also supporting local business who employ sustainable LEED friendly practices at their office just like you!

4. Minimize or eliminate Volatile Organic Compounds
Never heard of Volatile Organic Compounds? Think of spray mount. If you must use it (which is sometimes a necessity when it comes to creating comps and mockups), try to only use it in an area that has proper ventilation. Or a great alternative is using double-sided adhesive paper.

5. Incorporate sustainable materials into your design
This last point is extremely simple: recycle or reuse existing material. Incorporating sustainability into your design will do wonders for the environment in such a paper intensive industry.

We will do our best to conduct eco-friendly practices and hope you will too!

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