Today's FGF Friday is a brief lesson on LEED - Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design - and LEED Certified buildings.

When an owner seeks to improve sustainability, better indoor air-quality and minimize waste, he is changing his footprint. If enough standards are met and verified, LEED certification is achieved. The higher the rating (certified, silver, gold, platinum), the higher level of achievement. But beware, LEED certification does not always mean less waste - rather a well-rounded eco-minded building.

Here are five things to remember about LEED:

1. Residential: According to the US Green Building Council, LEED certified homes provide savings over conventional homes, have a greater, more lasting home value and provide a healthier indoor environment. But getting your home LEED certified is tough! It has to be well-rounded. Your small steps: install energy efficient appliances and HVAC systems. Landscape using native plants thus reducing water demands.

2. Offices: Businesses can achieve LEED certification in similar ways. I remember the engineering company I dedicated more than a decade of my career to sought new office space. They went after and achieved an upgraded LEED status - the thing that pushed them over the top? Efficient toilets! Your small steps: next time you enter a LEED certified office, take mental notes. More natural light? Operable windows? Efficient sinks? See what might translate in your personal environment.

3. Retail: Starbucks is making an effort around the globe to build efficiently and get certified. Next time you grab your stout brew, take a look at the architecture and interior design. Does it look "unique"? If something stands out to you, look around for a plaque showing Starbuck's LEED certification. Your small steps: Google "LEED certified businesses" and support them.

4. Cost: Generally, getting certified is expensive - especially LEED certified. Leedexposed.com estimates that a new federal building can gobble up $150,000 in LEED soft costs (fees, consultants, etc.). They also estimate that since a 2007 mandate was passed, an additional $131 million as been spent making new Ohio public schools LEED certified. Your small steps: if you choose to use LEED or vote for legislation, be informed.

5. Top-rated: California is the top-rated LEED certified state, while Canada leads countries outside the US. Check out USGBC website for a list of LEED facts. Your small steps: check out the facts and stats.

What small steps are you taking in your home or business? Have you ever seen one of those plaques? They are beautiful, if controversial.