The History of LEED Certification

As real estate development continues to evolve a more environmentally-friendly mindset, green building certification programs are becoming a worldwide normality. LEED — or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design — is a common practice across the globe and within our Optima properties

The first concept of LEED emerged in 1993, spearheaded by international environmental advocacy groups. By the early 1990s, the demand for sustainable buildings was already on the rise; the combined development in environmental legislation and the concern of tenants and shareholders pushed real estate developers, architects and industry leaders to re-think their methodologies. Non-profits, government agencies, architects, engineers, developers, builders and manufacturers came together to officially introduce the LEED program in 2000.

Since then, LEED has grown into the world’s most widely-used green building rating system, with nearly 80,000 projects participating across 162 countries. From residential buildings to commercial spaces, LEED provides a framework that project teams can use to create efficient, cost-saving green buildings. 

So how does a building become LEED certified? It depends on the project. There are various LEED rating systems for different situations, including building design and construction, interior design, building operations and maintenance, neighborhood development, homes, and cities and communities. Depending on the given system, requirements can range from material choices, to greenhouse gas emissions, to energy and water consumption, to air filter systems. Through these strategies, LEED buildings have a positive impact on their residents or tenants, their communities and the environment.

 Landscaped Courtyard at Optima Biltmore Towers
Landscaped Courtyard at Optima Biltmore Towers

From our building materials to our amenity spaces, we are in constant pursuit of bettering our buildings with environmentally conscious practices, something we’ve been passionate about since our beginnings. Ultimately certifications like LEED help us improve our buildings, support environmental efforts and create a long, lasting impact

A Brief History of The Courtyard

An iconic architectural design feature of many Optima projects, the courtyard is a long-beloved piece of home and history. A space designed for peace, socializing and beauty, the courtyard has a rich history that has led to its modern interpretations. 

It’s estimated that the first courtyard houses made an appearance around 6000BC in the Jordan Valley, used for purposes ranging from cooking, sleeping, working, gardening or even housing animals. Before courtyards, open fires were used within a central place in a home, with a small hole in the ceiling for the smoke to escape. Gradually, the holes became larger and evolved into open courtyards more similar to what exists today. 

Courtyards are an iconic staple in many cultures throughout the world, though they vary in style and function. The central uncovered area in Roman architecture was referred to as an atrium, and would often contain a central pool used to collect rainwater and a garden. In China, the courtyard was a central space for multiple homes and families, and used as a place for privacy and tranquility. The medieval European courtyard was used for working, gathering and protection. With such a rich and diverse history, it’s no surprise that the courtyard continues to withstand the test of time. 

A courtyard at one of the Optima homes in Arizona.

Traditionally, courtyard homes are prevalent in temperate climates, since the open space helps maintain a cool temperature. To take advantage of the functional and aesthetic benefits of the courtyard, many of our Arizona projects feature courtyard greenspaces. Our Arizona Courtyard House is even named after the feature that makes it unique; outside and inside flow together to create a seamless layout and beautiful views of the landscape.  The home is arranged with the main house to the south and east, and a fitness center and lap pool to the north creating a private courtyard in the center.

The essence of a courtyard is the physical expression of the concept of connection, and ours are built with the hope that they will provide a peaceful oasis in which residents can reconnect to their friends, family and the surrounding environment.

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Maintenance Supervisor

Glencoe, IL

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