You’re not living under a rock, so surely you’re familiar the US Green Buildings Council’s (USGBC) rating system for buildings that are “certified green” by meeting their LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) criteria.

You might not be aware though that NO credit points are awarded for the inclusion of live “green” plants that are placed and professionally maintained in these interior spaces.

That’s shocking to me!

Both the Australian and New Zealand equivalents of the USGBC have recognized the importance of live indoor plants that are professionally maintained and included them in their rating systems.

Bravo to them!

Espirito Santo Plaza Lobby

image1_esp_fosterplants_200Look at the photo at left, of a building lobby that we installed a few years ago. Can you imagine how stark this lobby would be without the beautifule plants and planters to complement the architecture of the space! They provide a sense of human connectivity with the outdoor that only live indoor plants could. A sculpture wouldn’t achieve this nor would artificial plants!

The good news is that the LEED rating system is continually being reviewed and re-evaluated and the Interior Plantscape Industry has about a two year window of opportunity to DO SOMETHING to correct this obvious oversight on the part of the USGBC.

Enter GreenPlants for Green Buildings ( and my friend Joe Zazerra, co-owner of Plant Solutions, Scottsdale, AZ. ( and a board member of GPGB. Joe has made the mission of the USGBC including “point’s for plants” in the LEED rating system his personal goal and on behalf of GPGB, he is relentlessley doing what it takes to achieve this goal.

Bravo to Joe!

To that end, Joe who is one of the first Interior Plantscapers to have taken and passed the LEED, AP certification exam has taken on the challenge of making this happen for our industry. Just last week Joe was interviewed by Kathy Fediw of JFA Consulting, The Woodlands, TX. ( also a LEED, AP, and he brought us up to speed on some recent developments that should help our mission to get the USGBC to take notice of our industry.

One of the areas that already exists in the LEED rating system which enables plants (and containers) to contribute to project points is the ”Innovation in Operation and Maintenance” category and Joe along with GPGB have identified a project that has succeeded in gaining a LEED rating in part due to points gained in this category. The project is the Ecology and Environment Headquarters building in Lancaster NY, a building that achieved it’s LEED status in part because of the points awarded under the Innovation In Operation and Maintenance credit under LEED for existing buildings 2.0. The specific credit is for the Biophilic connection and the narrative that was part of the process featured a plant list, environmental benefits and references to research found on the GreenPlants fo Green Buildings website

Joe also mentioned that recently, a second building located in new Mexico has achieved LEED Silver certification in part because of the inclusion of plants in the Innovation and Design Process category. This information will be forthcoming on the GPGB website as soon as it’s confirmed.

We’re very excited about all of these findings and can’t wait to be a part of it all!

If you’re an Architect or Design Professional working on a LEED certification process for one of your projects, we’d love to work with you to see if we can’t get you some points in the “Innovation and Design process” category. Give us a call and let’s do this!