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What LEED is


LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is an internationally-recognized green building certification system. Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) in March 2000, LEED provides building owners and operators with a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions.

LEED promotes sustainable building and development practices through a suite of rating systems that recognize projects that implement strategies for better environmental and health performance. The LEED rating systems are developed through an open, consensus-based process led by LEED committees, diverse groups of volunteers representing a cross-section of the building and construction industry.

LEED is flexible enough to apply to all building types – commercial as well as residential. It works throughout the building lifecycle – design and construction, operations and maintenance, tenant fit out, and significant retrofit.

LEED certification provides independent, third-party verification that a building uses strategies aimed at achieving high performance in five key areas of human and environmental health:

  • sustainable site development
  • water savings
  • energy efficiency
  • materials selection
  • indoor environmental quality

Certification occurs through the Green Building Certification Institute, an independent non-profit that was established in 2008 with the support of USGBC. GBCI includes a network of ISO-compliant international certifying bodies, ensuring the consistency, capacity and integrity of the LEED certification process.
LEED-certified buildings are designed to:

  • Lower operating costs and increase asset value
  • Reduce waste sent to landfills
  • Conserve energy and water
  • Be healthier and safer for occupants
  • Reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions
  • Qualify for tax rebates, zoning allowances and other incentives in hundreds of cities

An organization's participation in the voluntary and technically rigorous LEED process demonstrates leadership, innovation, environmental stewardship and social responsibility.

wha LEED® measurest

LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in key areas:

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Sustainable Sites
Site selection and development are important components of a building’s sustainability. The Sustainable Sites category seeks to minimize a building's impact on ecosystems and waterways; encourages regionally appropriate landscaping; rewards smart transportation choices; controls storm water runoff; and promotes reduction of erosion, light pollution, heat island effect and construction-related pollution.

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Water Efficiency
Buildings are major users of our potable water supply. The goal of the Water Efficiency category is to encourage smarter use of water, inside and out. Water reduction is typically achieved through more efficient appliances, fixtures and fittings inside and water-conscious landscaping outside.

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Energy & Atmosphere
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, buildings use 39% of the energy and 74% of the electricity produced each year in the United States. The Energy & Atmosphere category encourages a wide variety of energy-wise strategies: commissioning; energy use monitoring; efficient design and construction; efficient appliances, systems and lighting; the use of renewable and clean sources of energy, generated on-site or off-site; and other innovative measures.

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Materials & Resources
During both the construction and operations phases, buildings generate a lot of waste and use large quantities of materials and resources. The Materials & Resources category encourages the selection of sustainably grown, harvested, produced and transported products and materials. It promotes waste reduction as well as reuse and recycling, and it particularly rewards the reduction of waste at a product’s source.

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Indoor Environmental Quality
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that Americans spend about 90% of their day indoors, where the air quality can be significantly worse than outside. The Indoor Environmental Quality category promotes strategies that improve indoor air as well as those that provide access to natural daylight and views and improve acoustics.

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Innovation in Design
The Innovation in Design category provides bonus points for projects that use innovative technologies and strategies to improve a building’s performance well beyond what is required by other LEED credits, or to account for green building considerations that are not specifically addressed elsewhere in LEED. This category also rewards projects for including a LEED Accredited Professional on the team to ensure a holistic, integrated approach to the design and construction process.

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Regional Priority
USGBC’s regional councils, chapters and affiliates have identified the most important local environmental concerns, and six LEED credits addressing these local priorities have been selected for each region of the country.

 

how LEED® certification is achieved

 

LEED points are awarded on a 100-point scale, and credits are weighted to reflect their potential environmental impacts. Additionally, 10 bonus credits are available, four of which address regionally specific environmental issues. A project must satisfy all prerequisites and earn a minimum number of points to be certified.

 

The Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) administers LEED certification for all commercial and institutional projects registered under any LEED Rating System. USGBC administers the development and ongoing improvement of the LEED rating systems. USGBC is also the primary source for LEED and green building education and resources for project teams, such as reference guides, rating system addenda, workshops, online trainings and other tools to help achieve success on a LEED project.

 

Eligibility
Building types that are eligible for certification include – but are not limited to – offices, retail and service establishments, institutional buildings (e.g., libraries, schools, museums and religious institutions), hotels and residential buildings of four or more habitable stories.

For more information, visit: www.usgbc.org