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Feb 9, 2015 BY mark

What is LEED?

LEED Certification


LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a certification program for green buildings. To become LEED certified, projects must get a third-party evaluation to prove their commitment to green building.


LEED certification helps to change the way people think about designing, constructing, and maintaining buildings and communities around the world. LEED certified buildings promote renewable, clean energy. They also save money and resources at a higher rate than other buildings, and positively impact the health of inhabitants.

Who Can Be Certified?

LEED certifications are available for many types of buildings and projects. There are five rating systems that are good for many project types: Building Design and Construction, Interior Design and Construction, Building Operations and Maintenance, Neighborhood Development, and Homes.

How Is LEED Scored?

To become LEED certified, building projects have to satisfy prerequisites and earn credits, if they’d like to go above and beyond the basic certification.

The number of credits awarded to a project is added up to determine its certification level. There are four levels of certification: Certified, Silver, Gold, or Platinum.

The credits are broken up into eight categories:

  1. Sustainable Sites: for minimized impact on ecosystems and water resources.
  2. Location and Transportation: for projects in dense areas with access to many transportation options.
  3. Water Efficiency: for reduced potable water consumption.
  4. Energy and Atmosphere: for buildings with innovative energy performance.
  5. Materials and Resources: for use of sustainable building materials and limited waste production.
  6. Indoor Environmental Quality: for better indoor air quality and promoting daylight and views.
  7. Innovation: for design measures not covered under other categories.
  8. Regional Priority: for projects that address regional environmental priorities.

The LEED Certification Process

To begin the process, every project must register on the Green Building Certification Institute website. Next, the design and construction teams submit documentation and work on building prerequisites and credits. After the construction has been completed, the finished project is submitted for review within a year of completion. If any credits are denied, the project team has a chance to provide further documentation to satisfy the requirements. In the final review, the project is scored and approved or denied. After being certified, the project can purchase a plaque to proudly display.

Should You Choose LEED?

As the premier certification of achievement in sustainable building, there are quite a few reasons you might want to choose LEED certification.

Performance: If saving money, energy, and water is a priority and improving air quality, building with sustainable material, and promoting innovation are goals, LEED is ideal.

Innovation: The LEED program continually supports leaders in the industry as they further the goal of green building.

Rewards: Buildings that are LEED certified are less expensive to operate, as they reduce energy and water bills by up to 40%. All of those savings can be used for more important things: creating new jobs, retaining top talent, and expanding operations. LEED-certified buildings are more readily leased and are rewarded with tax rebates and zoning allowances. They also regularly have higher property values. What’s not to love?

Photo courtesy of Oregon Department of Transportation through a Creative Commons License.

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