TerraGlas, LEED, and Preservation

Recent years have revealed an increasing recognition in the building industry of the innate sustainable qualities of historic building restoration. TerraGlas is committed to purveying the alignment between the two movements.

One of the most recognizable green qualities of preservation is the investment in the historic building's embodied energy. Embodied energy encompasses all of the energy expended in the creation, transportation, and installation of building materials that make up our built environment. In many cases the alternative to preservation leads to the creation of massive amounts of landfill waste. Perhaps, a more aggressive approach toward preservation would aid in reducing the approximate 136 million tons of construction industry waste the United States produces annually.

Among the other sustainable benefits of preservation is that, often times, historic buildings are part of a more densely developed core of a community. This characteristic encourages the use of existing transportation lines, benefits from the proximity to existing basic services, is able to utilize in some cases existing infrastructure such as water, utilities, roads, power etc. thus causing less disturbance of undeveloped land.

The sustainable movement and preservation share another more prevailing similarity in their conservation of our cultural identity and history. This qualities are apparent in each of the term's definitions and have led us to address the LEED rating system.


LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. The LEED Green Building Rating System was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED is a national voluntary program to define and measure what defines a "green" building. There are a variety of LEED categories, including LEED for new construction and major renovations (LEED-NC), existing buildings (LEED-EB), commercial interiors (LEED-CI), core and shell development (LEED-CS), and homes (LEED-H).. Currently under development are rating systems for neighborhood development (LEED-ND), multiple buildings (LEED-MB), Schools, and Retail. The US Green Building Council (USGBC) is also currently developing application guides for Healthcare facilities, and Laboratories.

The goals of the LEED certification process are environmental performance, the improvement of occupant well being, and economic returns of facilities. Buildings are LEED certified if they achieve all of the prerequisites and a minimum number of points out of an established list of possibilities. LEED-NC and LEED-ND are certification programs that will often be utilized with historic building. The certification levels break out as follows:


(New Construction & Major Renovation)

  1. Certified -------------------------- 26 - 32 points
  2. Silver ----------------------------- 33 - 38 points
  3. Gold ------------------------------- 39 - 51 points
  4. Platinum -------------------------- 52 - 69 points


(Neighborhood Development)

  1. Certified -------------------------- 40 - 49 points
  2. Silver ----------------------------- 40 - 59 points
  3. Gold ------------------------------- 60 - 79 points
  4. Platinum -------------------------- 80 - 106 points

These levels are awarded for total points achieved on a project. Each LEED category has multiple parts or credits to recognize sustainable building practices. An additional LEED category recognizes innovative design.

These categories are:


(New Construction & Major Renovation)

  1. Sustainable Sites------------------------------(14 pts)
  2. Water Efficiency -----------------------------(5 pts)
  3. Energy and Atmosphere --------------------(17 pts)
  4. Materials and Resources---------------------(13 pts)
  5. Indoor Environmental Quality--------------(15 pts)
  6. Innovation and Design Process-------------(5 pts)


(Neighborhood Development)

  1. Smart Location & Linkage------------------(30 pts)
  2. Neighborhood Pattern & Design -----------(39 pts)
  3. Green Construction & Technology --------(31 pts)
  4. Innovation and Design Process-------------(6 pts)

TerraGlas and LEED

TerraGlas can directly contribute to the LEED certification process in the following categories:

MR 1.1 - Building reuse, 75% of existing walls, floors & roof

Many historic Terracotta buildings are reaching an age where the restoration of deteriorating cladding is paramount. Particularly in Transitional Masonry buildings where the steel structure that supports the terracotta was embedded into the massive masonry structure. Over the past 100 years this condition has led to the serious deterioration of the steel caused by the moisture retention of the masonry. This deterioration leads to the decline of the terracotta cladding which in turn further moisture problems.

TerraGlas can match any historic profile, texture, and/or color of historic terracotta. By facilitating the replacement of deteriorated components of the cladding, water infiltration issues can be remediated and the balance of the exterior wall system, if in good condition can be reused to achieve credit MR 1.1.

TerraGlas contributes to: 1 Point

MR 1.2 - Building reuse, 95% of existing walls, floors & roof

Due to the previously mentioned construction methods, often times building elements such as terracotta cornices are more susceptible to deterioration than the brick masonry veneer that may make up the majority of the structure. As indicated above, TerraGlas can be used to replace problem areas while the majority of the exterior can remain.

TerraGlas contributes to: 1 Point

MR 2.1 - Construction waste management, divert 50% from disposal

TerraGlas is a custom product made for the replacement of historic profiles. Because each project is considered individually, there is no (or very minimal) field cutting or waste. The waste from packing and crating of the units can generally be easily managed by the Contractor on site.

TerraGlas contributes to: 1 Point

MR 2.2 - Construction waste management, divert 75% from disposal

Complying with the same principles stated in MR2.1, the nature of TerraGlas replacement terracotta can aid in the reduction of overall project waste.

TerraGlas contributes to: 1 Point

By helping to facilitate the preservation process, TerraGlas recognizes the following LEED credits as readily achievable by many preservation projects, of which TerraGlas can play an important role.

SS 2 - Development Density & Community connectivity

Many building preservation efforts address older buildings established at the core of a community, or buildings established along with the communities basic services, i.e. churches, schools, post offices, etc. These very qualities are the requirement for LEED-NC credit SS2.

By providing a cost effective option for terracotta replacement, TerraGlas aims to help clients realize historic preservation efforts involving terracotta replacement that are important to local communities. The replacement of the terracotta component with more costly methods might otherwise be cost prohibitive.

SS 4.1 - Alternative transportation, Public Transportation

As mentioned above, buildings categorized as historic often reside in established parts of a community. In larger communities, that often equates to access to public transportation.

The complexities of Preservation prevent us from identifying all of the ways in which TerraGlas can address the LEED rating system and other sustainable design criteria. The points listed above identify some areas where TerraGlas may aid either directly or indirectly in achieving LEED status. TerraGlas is committed to helping our clients understand the role our product can play in the LEED certification process.