What is LEED Certification?

LEED = Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design

LEED is an internationally recognized green building certification system. This process offers third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built using strategies aimed at reducing energy and water usage, promoting better indoor air quality, and improving quality of life.

LEED Certification is for high-performance green buildings

In short, LEED is a rating system for buildings, equivalent to a gas mileage rating for cars. Under LEED, buildings accumulate points for things such as saving energy, having accessible mass transit, and mitigating storm water runoff. Once the points are tallied, the building earns a LEED rating. The higher the tally, the more sustainable a building is.

How to Earn LEED Certification

In order for a building project to earn LEED Certification, it must meet certain criteria and goals within the following categories:

  • Location and Transportation - how close the project is to mass transit
  • Materials and Resources - use locally sourced, sustainable products
  • Water Efficiency - reduce potable water usage
  • Energy and Atmosphere - improve energy performance and indoor air quality
  • Sustainable Sites - utilize nearby natural resources and ecosystems that can naturally take part of the design, minimizing environmental pollution
  • Regional Priority Credits - addressing a particular concern based on location
  • Innovation - any idea not covered under the main LEED areas

Each of these credit categories contains a series of suggested opportunities to earn the credit. The building project earns points when it properly uses and integrates these opportunities. Depending on the number of points received, the project can then earn certification on one of the following levels:

LEED Certification Levels

Benefits of LEED Certification

First, let's remember that LEED Certification refers to buildings, whereas LEED Accreditation refers to people. For the latter, see Benefits of a LEED Credential.

The benefits of LEED Certification include:

  • Reduced energy and water usage
  • Reduced maintenance and operation costs
  • Reduced construction waste during the building process
  • Reduced liability
  • Increased indoor air quality
  • Increased employee performance, satisfaction, and retention
  • Promotes usage of recycled material
  • Attracts companies, employees, and tenants who value sustainability

The LEED rating systems, created by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), are internationally accepted benchmarks for the design, construction, and operation of high performance green buildings. Since its inception in 1998, LEED has grown to encompass more than 20,000 projects in 50 U.S. states and 30 countries.

The LEED rating and certification system is the industry's gold-standard for environmentally sustainable building and is recognized industry-wide by architects, engineers, developers, and other building professionals. A LEED accreditation, such as LEED Green Associate, is a highly sought-after credential by professionals in environmental sustainability roles, as well as law, real estate and other areas.

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