Green building design has rolled into the heartland. Some may have thought green building design, commissioning, and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification would be simply an East/West Coast fad that would come and go like bell-bottoms and mood rings. But in Illinois, state agencies, local communities, public and private developers, and school districts are pushing the initiative to the forefront.

A number of architecture and engineering projects in central Illinois are including a request for green building, commissioning, and LEED experience and expertise. Building commissioning is the process of ensuring that buildings and their systems are designed, installed, functionally tested, and capable of being operated and maintained according to the owner’s original intent. LEED is a building certification program adopted by the U.S. Green Building Council that recognizes achievements and promotes expertise in green building. Buildings can achieve various LEED certification ratings by applying sustainable design principals.

With the green building initiative now becoming a nationwide standard of design and construction, sustainable design is here to stay. Illinois communities and businesses are stepping up and making sustainable design a priority. Local communities and businesses keep an eye out for what others are doing across the country. They want to be seen as progressive, so Illinois is jumping on this movement.

Farnsworth Group has been helping clients with sustainable design initiatives nationwide for a number of years, and we’re now seeing a growing interest here in central Illinois. The new regional museum along the Peoria riverfront will include commissioning and green building design as it pursues LEED certification. The new Milestone Project at OSF Saint Francis also is planning to include commissioning as part of its new development, and Caterpillar Inc. recently selected Farnsworth Group to provide commissioning services for its new Caterpillar Visitor Center in downtown Peoria.

But it’s not just state-of-the-art museums and high-tech facilities that are implementing sustainable design practices. Illinois school districts also are taking a close look at sustainable design. These districts are incorporating green building and commissioning requirements as a way to optimize their facilities. They also point to the lower daily operating costs environmentally friendly buildings offer. Peoria School District 150 has voiced an interest in adding commissioning as a component to its new building design—and possibly even LEED certification.

The State of Illinois also is pushing the sustainable design initiative. Last year, Gov. Blagojevich signed legislation requiring the Capital Development Board (CDB) to spearhead the growth of green building methods throughout the state. The new law calls for CDB to identify at least three state construction projects to serve as case studies in the use of green principles. The second task requires workshops to be held throughout the state to increase green building standards and ratings awareness and to establish a green building advisory committee to determine which state construction projects and major renovations should be developed to green building standards.

With these initiatives being driven by Illinois clients from all sectors, it’s likely sustainable design is here to stay. IBI