Green Power: How to buy renewable electricity for LEED and carbon accounting | U.S. Green Building Council
Please upgrade your browser. This site requires a newer version to work correctly. Read more


Need help? Contact 398 completions

Green Power: How to buy renewable electricity for LEED and carbon accounting

GBCI: 0920005777

Renewable Energy, Green Electricity, RECs, Guarantees of Origin, Carbon Offset, Ecolabels! Join us as we clarify LEED's green power credit. This course explains how to fulfill LEED's green power credit requirements for renewable electricity: independently or with LEED-recognized ecolabels, EKOenergy and Green-e. You will also learn how the purchase of green electricity can be used for carbon accounting.
Eligible for .5 CE HOURS.
  • .5 CE

  • LEED Green Associate

LEED version: v4, v2009

Published on: October 26, 2015

Average: 3.9 (31 votes)


Within the Energy and Atmosphere category, LEED refers to the purchase of green power. BD+C and ID+C award 1 to 2 points for projects that “Engage in a contract of at least 50-100% green power”. An O+M project can achieve up to 4 points with green power (v4). However, LEED does not accept all green power purchases and introduces extra requirements. This course explains the basics of the renewable electricity market, in particular the role of RECs and Guarantees of Origin, and how to practically buy renewable electricity for the green power credit.
Ecolabels are introduced and discussed as well. The LEED green power credit specifically recognizes two ecolabels, EKOenergy (Europe) and Green-e (US), as a simplified means of green electricity purchases. Both labels are run by international non-profit organizations.

And finally, this course will clarify how the fulfillment of LEED's green power criteria for electricity can also be used for carbon accounting (CDP reports and Greenhouse Gas Protocol).

This course is available in French here and German here.


  1. Learn what it means to buy renewable electricity
  2. Understand how LEED recognized ecolabels work
  3. Determine how to get the LEED Green Power Credit
  4. Identify LEED accepted alternatives for the credit
  5. Explain the relationship between green carbon purchases and carbon accounting
Sign in
Please sign in to access this course


Susan Gow, EKOenergy
Steven Vanholme, EKOenergy
  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on LinkedIn
Education @USGBC courses are also available in the USGBC app for iOS or Android on your iPhone, iPad or Android device.
iOS App on App Store
Android app on Google Play

More Courses from this Partner

Total 38 commentsLeave a comment

Chemical Engineer, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Would be better if I can speed up the video.

Business Development, ThyssenKrupp

Very good


clearly summary of green power; acc. to me shall be shown differentia of buying green energy in LEED 2009 and v4.

Senior sustainablity consultant, AECOM

so detail about green-e

Project Manager, PSOMAS

the content is presented in super convoluted and disorganized way

Coordinator EKOenergy Secretariat, GGBA | German Green Building Association

We welcome all constructive suggestions to improve the next version of this course. This topic is under evolution, so we will need updates in the future. The more detailed your comments, the better we can take them into account. I am also easily available via
And I also take the opportunity to make some promotion for our course. To those who would get doubts after reading Ms Napiatek's comments: please also read the positive feedback of 40 other commenters (on this version and the other language versions).
The green energy building sector can play a huge role in promoting renewable energy. Let's go for it together! (See also

DPR Construction

Very educational and technical.

Partner, Ecoimpact Consulting, LLC
Pro Reviewer

This course would be appropriate for building professionals interested in gaining an understanding of how to achieve the Green Power credit for LEED projects. There was quite a bit of information applicable to the international REC marketplace which would be particularly helpful for project teams working outside the US. This course answers some basic questions like: Why should I choose to purchase RECs? What is a guarantee of origin? What is green-e? And what are the LEEDv4 additional requirements for REC purchases?

However, I gave this course 3 stars because I felt that it did not adequately address the full credit requirements of LEED v4 projects which include not only green power and RECs for Scope 2 (electricity use) but also carbon offsets for Scope 1 emissions (commonly natural gas). I would have liked to see more on that topic including how to calculate energy use associated with electricity and nonelectric energy use. I also did not feel that “carbon accounting” was discussed with enough detail to provide viewers a clear understanding of the concept.


Hard to understand at times- but appreciate the US vs Europe comparisons.

Outreach Coordinator - New Buildings, Large Commercial at CLEAResult, CLEAResult

Very easy to follow.

Sustainability Professional, Johnson Controls

I liked the balance b/t North America and Europe. (I am from Canada, and a hydro-electric dominated province.)

Director, WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff

Good Coures



Senior Mechanical Design Engineer, Ramboll

Nice course

Project Manager, Doo Consulting LLC

straight forward and simply displayed. good information.

City and County of San Francisco

no comment

Delivery Manager EMEA, JLL


Sustainability Consultant, University of Maine System

Great overview, clear concise presentation. thanks

Project Manager, Ring and DuChateau

Great Green Power 101


Very clear and simple presentation about Renewable Energy Certificates and EU alternatives. Very useful for anyone who is seeking to get LEED points for that.

Perkins Eastman

very clear


Precise and informative presentation on how to buy renewable energy for LEED.

LEED / Commissioning Consultant, Salimus Consultancy JLT
Pro Reviewer

This course is a good example of a high quality educational material and helps to better understand the LEED EA Green Power credit requirements related to a renewable energy purchasing. A detailed explanation is given of such means of green power purchases as USA Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) and Green-e eco-label as well as European Guarantee of Origin (GO) and EKO-energy eco-label.

It is indicated that the course covers both LEED version: v4 and v2009, but in fact it is mainly dealing with the LEED v4 version. Also, the course does not sufficiently cover a carbon offsets part of the EA v4 credit “Green Power and Carbon Offsets”.

However, these comments do not reduce the value of this course. This course is recommended to everybody who needs better understanding of the green power purchase particulars.

Senior Project Manager, Starlight Investments Ltd.


Purchasing Agent/Energy Manager, City of Haverhill

very good and concise webinar!




I love the Icelandic accent!

Principal, YES Engineering Inc.


Cost Manager & Sustainability Consultant, Sentient s.r.o.


I'm still not sure about other energy consumption (gas, heat power) of the building. As LEED EB:OM v2009 requires: "Off-site-generated renewable energy be certified by the Green-e program (or EKOenergy, GOs) for electricity, and Green-e Climate or its equivalent for other energy consumption."

The US companies offer the purchasing of carbon offsets estimated based on gas and heat power actual consumption. Are you able to solve this issue?

Thank you and looking forward to hearing from you.

Coordinator EKOenergy Secretariat, GGBA | German Green Building Association

Dear Marcela,

(hereafter a very short summary of what I wrote you per e-mail)

This course is only about electricity. We did not have the ambition to cover other aspects, such as offsetting.

You are with good reason wondering what to do with e.g. the use of gas, or the use of heat (e.g. from a district heating system).

1) I think we will need further clarification from the USGBC. On the one hand, 95% of the wording of LEED's Green Power chapter comes from the ELECTRICITY sector. The concept Green Power itself to start with. But also requirements such as ’installations come online since 2005’. And of course all the ’difficult words’, such as RECs and Guarantees of Origin. None of these make (currently) sense for e.g. gas.
But it is true that the examples mentioned at the end of the credit, also refer to e.g. gas.

2) It is confusing to mix these two ’sectors’. In the electricity market, there is a clear differentiation of different types of electricity (as explained in the course). There isn’t anything comparable (yet) in the gas or heat market. There are some local/national experiments to sell biogas, but it is difficult to refer to these in an international standard. I think this will change a lot in the coming years/decade, but that doesn’t help you today.

3) If LEED/USGBC really wants you to compensate the emissions resulting from the use of gas and steam, the situation is relatively simple:

-> We from our side will have to review the last slide of our presentation. We should warn the users of fuel and steam that they have to compensate the emissions caused by these, before they can get this credit. I have already submitted this question to the USGBC.
-> You from your side will have to buy Green-e CLIMATE certified offsetting certificates. Don’t be confused by the name. This has nothing to do with the Green-e ecolabel for electricity, about which we talk in the course. Green-e CLIMATE is an ecolabel for offsetting certificates. Note that there are other ecolabels for offsetting, but LEED doesn’t refer to these (unless you would be able to prove that they are ’equivalent’… )

4) As far as I know, this hasn’t been an issue during the debates about the European (and other) ACPs. Which once more gives me the feeling that many have forgotten about this non-electric aspect of the Green Power credit.

5) I’ll definitely follow up with the USGBC. I am also volunteering to be involved in further (online) workshops or other initiatives related to this issue. The sector of biogas will develop. And carbon offsetting today is no longer what it was when this concept popped up in the LEED standards.

However confusing this all sounds, I’m very positive that things will get more and more simple. I have the feeling that by the next review, you (LEED sector) will be able to cut half of the text of this Green Power Criteria, without losing any content. I’ll happily provide you with my thoughts and suggestions.

We’ll be in touch.

Steven (sorry, it took a while before I discovered how to get a login for this page)

GGBA | German Green Building Association

Hi Marcela, Please contact Steven Vanholme at EKOenergy --
He will happily answer any questions.
Thanks, Nicole

Cost Manager & Sustainability Consultant, Sentient s.r.o.

Dear Nicole,
thank you for the message. We are already in touch.

Project Manager, Collaborative Studio

easy to understand the concepts

Space Planner, Johnson Controls

An interesting course but the quiz was NOT easy. It took me quite a few times and I kept getting 70%, even with the notes and slide deck for reference.

GGBA | German Green Building Association

Based on this feedback, we have simplified the quiz. Thank you for letting us know.

WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff


Principal, NRG-AR
Pro Reviewer

This course deals with the issues of buying green power through different tracking systems. In a simple and clear way, the presenters explain how the green power criteria are met and implemented, and how RECs are accounted for. The course provides a good understanding on the conceptual basis of the renewable energy certificate systems.

The best things about this course are its simplicity and the clear manner the presenters deliver the theory of green power. After completing this short course, I am more able to understand new concepts related to green power, such as Guarantees of Origin, power plant age criteria, and contractual issues such as terms of purchase, which are integrated within the presentation.

I would recommend this course mainly for European practitioners (or for those using the EKOenergy system) as it discusses in depth the issues and caveats around that market. Owners, procurement agents and those interested in the green power sector will most benefit from this course.

GGBA | German Green Building Association

Thank you for the thorough review Andres. We are pleased that you find the course to be presented in a straightforward manner, as it is indeed our goal to bring clarity to the LEED Green Power Credit.

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Leave a comment Don't have an account? Create one

You must be signed in to leave a comment.