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How to Take the LEED in Green Pest Control

Written by  Michael A Pinto, CSP, CMP

Today, building owners across the world are looking for ways to minimize their operating costs and cut down on their environmental impact. As a result, interest in LEED certification has continued to grow. An owner seeking LEED certification for their building may be surprised to learn that reducing the environmental impact of a property’s pest management program is a relatively easy way to obtain two LEED credit points.

What is LEED?

LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a widely recognized third-party certification program and a nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high-performance green buildings. Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) in 1998, LEED provides building operators with comprehensive tools and information to help them improve their building’s environmental performance. LEED certification is a technically rigorous process that requires a demonstration of environmental stewardship and social responsibility. In fact, for many building owners, LEED certification has become a marketing advantage, as the designation signifies that a building is a healthy place to live and work. In order to earn LEED certification, a building must accumulate points relative to how the property is constructed and operated. Points are awarded for plans that protect the environment, preserve resources, and operate sustainably. By complying with the LEED standards for pest management, your building may be eligible to earn two LEED credit points.

IPM: A sustainable approach to pest management

Any building owner or property manager looking to earn LEED credit for their pest management program must first understand what is required for an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program. An IPM program is an environmentally responsible pest management approach that emphasizes proactive solutions, such as ongoing sanitation and meticulous facility maintenance to effectively manage pest problems in a proactive fashion. These preventive techniques often mean that the use of chemical pesticides can be considerably reduced, or even eliminated, minimizing exposure to people, property, and the environment. It’s important to note, however, that the IPM standards recommended by LEED are considerably more complex than a standard IPM program. For both indoor and outdoor pest control, the LEED standards call for the use of IPM combined with leasttoxic pesticides, but stipulate that they be used only after all other options are exhausted.

LEED Requirements for Indoor and Outdoor IPM

Below is an outline of the standards your building must meet in order to obtain LEED credit points for your pest management program:

1. Develop, implement, and maintain an IPM plan. Your building will need a written IPM policy and documentation that it was strictly followed in order to earn the points. To create a plan, consult with a qualified pest management professional who has extensive experience in IPM and green practices.

2. Use only least-toxic chemical pesticides. A list of approved leasttoxic chemicals that can be used for pest control is available through LEED. A pest management provider trained in green pest management practices can help you choose the pesticides that meet LEED requirements.

3. Ensure minimum use of the least-toxic chemical pesticides. In a scenario where least-toxic pesticides are necessary, you must limit their use to times when pests are actually present and when non-chemical approaches are unsuccessful or inappropriate. Be sure to communicate recurring pest problems observed by your maintenance teams to your pest management professional so that pesticides are only used when absolutely necessary.

4. Apply least-toxic chemical pesticides only in targeted locations. In a LEED IPM program, least-toxic pesticides are applied sparingly in targeted locations with great precision. Even then, they are only applied after careful consideration of other non-chemical IPM tactics, such as the use of insect light traps with sticky boards for flying insects.

5. Apply least-toxic chemical pesticides only for targeted pest species. Before treatment, your pest management professional must first assess the type of pest problem at hand. Once the pest has been identified, LEED mandates that only least-toxic chemical pesticides be used to combat that specific species. Make sure your provider is knowledgeable about pest behavior and biology to help correctly identify pests before making decisions on treatment.

6. Identify what circumstances constitute an emergency application of pesticides in or around the building (when not complying with earlier guidelines). Consult your pest management professional for a list of pest problems that would require an emergency application of pesticides. For example, if one of your employees reported a large infestation of wasps in your building lobby, an emergency application of pesticides would be appropriate to keep the building occupants safe.

7. Develop a communications strategy for universal notification for normal and emergency conditions. When chemical applications are necessary, your program must outline a communication plan for notifying building occupants. Under normal conditions, should pesticides other than least-toxic products be required, LEED mandates that you notify occupants of pesticide applications at least 72 hours in advance. For emergency pesticide applications, occupants must be notified no later than 24 hours afterward. A pest management company well versed in LEED can help you craft a comprehensive treatment notification plan for your building.

Pest Management is a relatively easy way for any property to earn points towards LEED certification. By following the LEED standards and working with a pest management professional to implement an IPM program, you can help reduce the need for chemical pesticides, improve your buildings’ environmental footprints, and even boost your company’s reputation. To learn more about how pest management plays a role in LEED, go online to USGBC’s website, www.usgbc.org, and review the LEED for Existing Buildings Operations & Maintenance Rating System.


Patrick Copps is Technical Services Manager for Orkin’s Pacific Division. A Board Certified Entomologist in urban and industrial entomology, Mr. Copps has more than 35 years experience in the industry. For more information, email Mr. Copps at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit www.orkincommercial.com.

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