JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Environmentally friendly and efficient buildings are now the trend in construction with LEED certification involving scoring points to achieve a "green" goal.
The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is part of the U.S. Green Building Council that awards points in the the construction process with platinum being the highest.
In Jacksonville there are 40 LEED certified buildings, most of them public that have earned varying levels of efficiency.
The University of North Florida has eight campus buildings that are "certified" with four of them being gold.
"We shoot for silver...a lot of them achieve gold because we are trying to do a better job," said Zak Ovadia who oversees campus planning at UNF.
He pointed out that UNF's new Student Wellness Center is the latest building to be certified with a gold label.
The building used recycled steel and cement in the construction along with mechanical systems designed to lower energy consumption. The weight room has a flooring that is made of recycled Nike shoes. The restrooms use toilets that use minimal water and waterless urinals.
USA Today reviewed the world of "green" construction by examining more than 7,100 buildings that are certified by the third party council.
In some states like Nevada, Maryland and Oregon being certified can bring with it tax breaks.
USA Today found that the Palazzo Hotel and Casino earned an environmentally friendly score also scoring the owners a $27 million tax break over ten years.
Tom Frank is the reporter who spent months learning the the particulars of LEED construction. He told First Coast News that the program had not really been the target of a thorough reviews to measure the benefits of green push.
In scoring points for example he found certain paints with no smell earn credit in the formula.
At UNF scoring points is not the priority says Ovadia who noted public facilities don't score dollars for being LEED certified.
"If for example if missing one point and the consultant says well if you do this, cost you x number of dollars then you get one more point, that is not the goal we are after," he said.
When it comes to savings Ovadia says the savings can push 40 percent when you add up energy and water consumption.
The U.S Green Building Council is planning to revise its LEED scoring by requiring more detailed steps in the certification process that has been in place for the past decade.
First Coast News