Choose your rating system
Determine which rating system you will use and prepare your certification application. Applications differ depending on your project type and the LEED credits you decide to pursue.
This guidance was developed to explain what type of project each LEED rating system was written for. It provides general guidance for project teams to consider in order to make a reasonable decision before registering their project. This document also picks up where the LEED Reference Guides leave off when deciding which rating system is best for a given project.
Project teams should pay careful attention to the prerequisites and credits outlined in the given rating system, and make sure that the project can earn all prerequisites and enough points to earn certification.
How to use this guidance
Determine which construction type the project falls into.
If there are multiple systems applicable to the construction type, choose one based on space usage type.
If the correct rating system is not obvious, carefully review the 40/60 rule.
- LEED for Schools and LEED for Healthcare projects. There are very specific building types that must certify under these rating systems. See the introduction section of the relevant reference guides, as well as this guidance, to outline when it is necessary to use these rating systems.
- This document does not address the LEED for Neighborhood Development rating system. Please refer to LEED for Neighborhood Development rating system for more information.
- Occasionally, USGBC recognizes that an entirely inappropriate rating system has been chosen for a project. In this case, the project team will be asked to change the designated rating system for their registered building project. Please review this guidance carefully, and contact USGBC if it is not clear which rating system to use.
- If both the following two statements describe the project, then a whole building rating system, with the exception of LEED for Commercial Interiors or LEED for Retail: Commercial Interiors, should be used.
- The entity conducting the work leases OR owns and controls 90% or more of the building that the space is located in
- The same entity is conducting new construction or major renovation in 40% or more of the gross floor area of the building
- New construction additions cannot include any portions of the existing building (renovated or not) within their LEED project boundary when pursuing a whole building rating system, unless they include the entirety of the existing building. For further detail on how to pursue certification for addition projects as ‘Attached Buildings’, please reference MPR #2 in our 2009 Minimum Program Requirements – Supplemental Guidance document.
Other reference materials
Minimum Program Requirements (MPRs) The MPRs answer the question ‘Can I pursue LEED for my project?’ by listing the basic characteristics that a project must possess to be eligible for certification. They can be found on all LEED 2009 rating system pages.
Supplemental Guidance to the Minimum Program Requirements: Revision 2 This guidance builds on the MPRs by establishing exceptions, providing direction for specific situations, defining key terms, and describing the intent behind each MPR.
LEED for Homes Scope & Eligibility Guidelines The MPRs do not apply to LEED for Homes project teams. They should refer to the LEED for Homes Scope & Eligibility Guidelines.