Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is an impartial world-wide green building certification program developed by the non-profit U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The certification process utilizes a set of rating systems for the design, construction, operation and maintenance of eco-friendly homes, buildings and neighborhoods that assists building owners and operators in maintaining an environmentally responsible and resource-efficient status.
Over the last 20 years, the LEED program has grown from a single standard for new construction to a complete system of interrelated standards that focus on all aspects from LEED Certified building design and construction to maintenance and operation of buildings. To date, LEED standards have been applied to nearly 100,000 registered and LEED certified projects worldwide. In fact, many federal agencies and state and local governments in the United State actually require or at least reward LEED certification.
LEED uses a rating system of 10 different criteria for the design, construction and operation of buildings, homes and neighborhoods. These criteria fall under one of 5 different overall categories:
Green Building Design & Construction
- LEED for New Construction
- LEED for Core & Shell
- LEED for Schools
- LEED for Retail: New Construction and Major Renovations
- LEED for Healthcare
Green Interior Design & Construction
- LEED for Commercial Interiors
- LEED for Retail: Commercial Interiors
Green Building Operations & Maintenance
- LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance
Green Neighborhood Development
- LEED for Neighborhood Development
Green Home Design and Construction
- LEED for Homes
Buildings can qualify for 4 LEED Certification* levels:
- Certified: 40–49 points
- Silver: 50–59 points
- Gold: 60–79 points
- Platinum: 80 points and above
* Not to be confused with LEED Accreditation, which applies to green building professionals (LEED AP, LEED Green Associate), not the buildings themselves.
As a prerequisite to applying for LEED certification, a building must comply with environmental laws and regulations, occupancy scenarios, building permanence and pre-rating completion, site boundaries and area-to-site ratios.
As a result of this rating system and corresponding sustainable practices, more and more eco-friendly buildings will be constructed, to further secure the integrity and safety of our environment for generations to come.