The LEED rating system is designed to evaluate buildings, spaces, and neighborhoods in the context of their surroundings. A significant portion of LEED requirements are dependent on the project’s location, therefore it is important that LEED projects are evaluated as permanent structures. Locating projects on existing land is important to avoid artificial land masses that have the potential to displace and disrupt ecosystems.
The LEED rating system is designed to evaluate buildings, spaces, or neighborhoods, and all environmental impacts associated with those projects. Defining a reasonable LEED boundary ensures that project is accurately evaluated.
All rating systems
All LEED projects must be designed for, constructed on, and operated on a permanent location on already existing land. LEED projects shall not consist of mobile structures, equipment, or vehicles. No building or space that is designed to move at any point in its lifetime may pursue LEED Certification.
New Construction, Core & Shell, Schools, Retail – New Construction, Healthcare
LEED projects must include the new, ground-up design and construction, or major renovation, of at least one commercial, institutional, or high-rise residential building in its entirety.
Commercial Interiors, Retail – Commercial Interiors
The LEED project scope must include a complete interior space distinct from other spaces within the same building with regards to at least one of the following characteristics: ownership, management, lease, or party wall separation.
Existing Buildings: O&M
LEED projects must include at least one existing commercial, institutional, or high-rise residential building in its entirety.
All LEED projects must be constructed and operated on a permanent location on existing land. No project that is designed to move at any point in its lifetime may pursue LEED certification. This requirement applies to all land within the LEED project.
- Movable buildings are not eligible for LEED. This includes boats and mobile homes.
- Prefabricated or modular structures and building elements may be certified once permanently installed as part of the LEED project.
- Buildings located on previously constructed docks, piers, jetties, infill, and other manufactured structures in or above water are permissible, provided that the artificial land is previously developed, such that the land once supported another building or hardscape constructed for a purpose other than the LEED project.
The LEED project boundary must include all contiguous land that is associated with the project and supports its typical operations. This includes land altered as a result of construction and features used primarily by the project’s occupants, such as hardscape (parking and sidewalks), septic or stormwater treatment equipment, and landscaping. The LEED boundary may not unreasonably exclude portions of the building, space, or site to give the project an advantage in complying with credit requirements. The LEED project must accurately communicate the scope of the certifying project in all promotional and descriptive materials and distinguish it from any non-certifying space.
- Non-contiguous parcels of land may be included within the LEED project boundary if the parcels directly support or are associated with normal building operations of the LEED project and are accessible to the LEED project’s occupants.
- Facilities (such as parking lots, bicycle storage, shower/changing facilities, and/or on-site renewable energy) that are outside of the LEED project boundary may be included in certain prerequisites and credits if they directly serve the LEED project and are not double-counted for other LEED projects. The project team must also have permission to use these facilities.
- The LEED project boundary may include other buildings.
- If another building or structure within the LEED project boundary is ineligible for LEED certification, it may be either included or not included in the certification of the LEED project.
- If another building within the LEED project boundary is eligible for LEED certification, it may be either included or not included in the certification as outlined in USGBC’s campus guidance.
- Projects that are phased sites with a master plan for multiple buildings must designate a LEED project boundary for each building or follow USGBC’s campus guidance.
- The gross floor area of the LEED project should be no less than 2% of the gross land area within the LEED project boundary.
- The LEED project should include the entire building and complete scope of work.
- Buildings or structures primarily dedicated to parking are not eligible for LEED certification. Parking that serves an eligible LEED project should be included in the certification.
- Buildings that are physically connected by programmable space are considered one building for LEED purposes unless they are physically distinct and have distinct identities as separate buildings or if they are a newly constructed addition. If separated, the projects should also have separate air distribution systems and water and energy meters (including thermal energy meters).
- Buildings that have no physical connection or are physically connected only by circulation, parking, or mechanical/storage rooms are considered separate buildings and individual projects for LEED purposes, with the following exceptions:
- Primary and secondary school projects, hospitals (general medical and surgical), hotels, resorts, and resort properties, as defined by ENERGY STAR building rating purposes, may include more than one physically distinct building in a single LEED project. For new construction projects, each building in the application must be less than 25,000 sq. ft. Please contact USGBC if with any questions.
- For other cases such as buildings that have programmatic dependency (spaces – not personnel – within the building cannot function independently without the other building) or architectural cohesiveness (the building was designed to appear as one building), project teams are encouraged to contact USGBC to discuss their project prior to proceeding.
- The LEED project should be defined by a clear boundary such that the LEED project is physically distinct from other interior spaces within the building.
- The LEED neighborhood includes the land, water, and construction within the LEED project boundary.
- The LEED boundary is usually defined by the platted property line of the project, including all land and water within it.
- Projects located on publicly owned campuses that do not have internal property lines must delineate a sphere-of-influence line to be used instead.
- Projects may have enclaves of non-project properties that are not subject to the rating system, but cannot exceed 2% of the total project area and cannot be described as certified.
- Projects must not contain non-contiguous parcels, but parcels can be separated by public rights-of-way.
- The project developer, which can include several property owners, should control a majority of the buildable land within the boundary, but does not have to control the entire area.