As it examines how it will fashion its massive downtown redevelopment, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is considering taking the "green" way.
Church officials have confirmed to the Deseret Morning News that they are eyeing Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, standards in their $500 million overhaul of the Crossroads Plaza and ZCMI Center malls downtown.
Mayor Rocky Anderson, a green building champion, recently asked members of the church's presiding bishopric if they would consider LEED standards in the redevelopment, but a church spokesman said the redevelopment team has long pondered going green.
"Sustainable design and LEED standards have been a topic of planning and discussion among our redevelopment project managers for some time now," church spokesman Dale Bills said. "We are still early in the detailed design phase of the project, with many factors yet to be considered and resolved. The decision to pursue LEED certification remains to be determined."
Those voluntary LEED standards are set by the U.S. Green Building Council and require builders and architects to meet certain benchmarks that will reduce a building's overall energy consumption. In general, LEED-certified buildings cost more to build, but those higher building costs can potentially be recouped through lower energy bills.
According to the U.S. Green Building Council, LEED was created to define green building by establishing a common standard, recognize environmental leadership in the building industry, stimulate green competition, raise consumer awareness of green building benefits and transform the building market.
The standards require builders and designers to follow a set of five principles where possible. Depending on how well a building follows those principles it can become LEED-certified at different levels. The highest level of certification is platinum, moving down to gold, sliver and finally bronze.
LEED design calls for builders and architects to reuse existing structures when possible, build near mass transit, use natural light where possible, adopt water-wise landscapes, build with recycled materials if available, use effective designs for heating and air conditioning systems and consider a multitude of other suggestions and requirements.
Anderson is hoping the LDS Church goes for the certification. If it does, the new development could be one of the largest U.S. projects ever to become LEED-certified.
Anderson said in a recent interview that he has begun asking all major developers of new properties or redeveloped ones in Salt Lake City to use LEED standards.
"I'm hoping that all new construction in this city is LEED-certified, as well as all major renovation," Anderson said. "I do think that this major downtown renovation project would be internationally renowned if it were built according to high-performance standards."
While much of the church's redevelopment is cloaked in secrecy, the church and its team have said they will open up the malls but include less retail space. The two blocks where the malls sit will eventually be infused with some 900 housing units and office space.
Anderson recently signed an executive order requiring all buildings built with taxpayer dollars or ones that are managed by Salt Lake City be built according to LEED standards. The city's new Intermodal Hub, which was dedicated earlier this month, became Salt Lake's first city-owned building to be LEED-certified.