|Fig. 1: Outside of Stanford University's Yang and Yamazaki Environment and Energy Building (Courtesy of Kirby George Gee).|
LEED certification is a well-respected system of evaluation on the environmental effects of building projects, both pre-existing and under construction. Stanford University's Yang and Yamazaki Environment and Energy Building (Y2E2) qualified as LEED Platinum, the highest level of certification, in 2013. A commitment to sustainable design and the use of metrics such as LEED to ensure that current energy goals are being reached make Y2E2 an important case study in sustainable building. It is important for Stanford University and other similar institutions to continuously realize the importance of a commitment to sustainability, as is displayed by Y2E2.
LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a certification process done through the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The first LEED rating system was created in 2001, and since then, USGBC has continued to update and expand the criterion for certification to match current global needs. The current LEED Certification includes four different rating systems for different stages of the building process, and a points system that qualifies buildings as LEED Certified, LEED Silver, LEED Gold, or LEED Platinum, based on a variety of categories. 
Stanford University's Yang and Yamazaki Environment and Energy Building (Y2E2) is one of 336 buildings that is currently qualified as LEED Platinum on the LEED Operations and Maintenance: Existing Buildings rating system, reaching over 80 points total across all categories. Many energy saving features were incorporated into the building design of Y2E2 in 2008, including natural ventilation through large atriums with rooftop windows, a heat recapturing system, and a high-efficiency, data-collecting HVAC system. The design proposal included an expected 42% decrease in electricity cost of the building compared to buildings of similar size and purpose, and over its first year, Y2E2 proved to reduce costs by around 37%, falling slightly short of expectations but still much better than industry standards.
Stanford University's current commitment to sustainability includes an Y2E2 was the first on-campus buildings of its scale to exceed Stanford's expectations for sustainability, and is an important case study in successful sustainable building design for educational facilities. Stanford continues to pledge commitment to decreasing its carbon footprint in the coming years by focusing on energy efficiency in new building design, energy conservation in existing buildings, and source of its energy supply. 
There are many criticisms of LEED Certification and other similar sustainability rating systems, including the cost of certification and the relevance of metrics used. However, performance results do indicate that LEED certified buildings use 24% less energy than the average counterpart, and have an average Energy Star rating that is 18% higher than their counterparts.  If these types of rating systems aid energy reduction and lead to higher sustainability practices for buildings where LEED certification is desired, then it is important for the rating system to be continuously utilized and updated to reflect current global sustainability targets. Stanford University's multi-faceted pledge to sustainability and their use of LEED certification on buildings such as Y2E2 provide an example for all institutions of their scale to utilize to continuously increase energy efficiency and decrease their carbon footprint.
© Helen Stroheker. The author grants permission to copy, distribute and display this work in unaltered form, with attribution to the author, for noncommercial purposes only. All other rights, including commercial rights, are reserved to the author.
 "Leed v4 User Guide," U.S. Green Building Council, June 2013.
 J. Kunz, T. Maile, and V. Bazjanac, "Summary of the Energy Analysis of the First Year of the Stanford Jerry Yang & Akiko Yamazaki Environment & Energy (Y2E2) Building," Center for Integrated Facility Engineering, Stanford University, CIFE Technical Report TR183, October 2009.
 "Stanford University Energy and Climate Plan, 3rd Ed.," Office of Sustainability, Stanford University, August 2015.
 C. Turner and M. Frankel, "Energy Performance of LEED for New Construction Buildings," New Buildings Institute, March 2008.