LEEDPrairiewoods has been awarded LEED® Gold certification for existing buildings, making it the first nonprofit in Iowa with that honor. LEED is the nation’s preeminent program for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings and was established by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and verified by the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI).

Prairiewoods board and staff, area environmental leaders and politicians, and a representative of USGBC were all present for a plaque presentation ceremony on Friday, December 14. (See pictures.)

“We are proud to earn the LEED Gold Certification. This is a testament to the commitment and respect for the environment that the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration had when they built Prairiewoods in 1996. We look forward to educating and engaging families, schools, churches and businesses in our community on green practices they too can implement,” said Prairiewoods Director Laurie Harris. “Our eco-friendly practices not only protect God’s creation and provide utility cost savings, but also contribute to a healthy and comfortable space for our staff and guests.”

While many newly constructed buildings are LEED certified, achieving certification for an existing building is much less common. Only seven existing buildings in Iowa are LEED certified. Of these, only one other existing structure has received Gold, and Prairiewoods is the only nonprofit to do so.

Prairiewoods achieved LEED certification for energy efficiency; use of renewable energy; and green practices for lighting, water and material use, as well as incorporating a variety of other sustainable strategies. By using less energy and water, LEED certified buildings save money for families, businesses and taxpayers; reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and contribute to a healthier environment for residents, workers and the larger community.

“Building operations are nearly 40% of the solution to the global climate change challenge,” said Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO & Founding Chair, U.S. Green Building Council. “While climate change is a global problem, innovative organizations like Prairiewoods are addressing it through local solutions.”

LEED certification of Prairiewoods was based on a number of green policies and practices established over Prairiewoods’ 16-year history. These features include:

  • solar panels that generate 24,600 kilowatt-hours (kwh) of energy each year, which is 50% of the energy used in the main building at Prairiewoods
  • 100% of light bulbs, 48% of food, 73% of cleaning materials and 100% of ongoing consumables that meet USGBC criteria for green products
  • an Energy Star rating of 91 for energy efficiency