Green Building 101: What is LEED? | U.S. Green Building Council
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Published on
Posted in LEED
Published on
Posted in LEED

What is LEED?

LEED is a third-party green building certification program and the globally recognized standard for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings and neighborhoods.

Addressing all building and space types through different rating systems and adaptations, LEED gives building owners and operators the tools they need to have an immediate and measurable effect on their buildings’ performance. By promoting a whole-building approach to sustainability, LEED recognizes performance in location and planning, sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, waste reduction, indoor environmental quality, innovative strategies and attention to priority regional issues.

What are the different LEED rating systems?

There are four LEED rating systems: LEED for Building Design and Construction (BD+C), which includes residential design and construction; LEED for Interior Design and Construction (ID+C); LEED for Building Operations and Maintenance (O+M); and LEED for Neighborhood Development (ND). LEED for Cities/Communities is a pilot rating system that addresses performance in existing cities and communities.

Within each of these rating systems are different solutions to fit various project types and scopes.

How are the rating systems structured?

The LEED rating systems are made up of prerequisites and credits. Prerequisites are required elements or green building strategies that must be included in any LEED-certified project. Credits are optional elements that projects can pursue to gain points toward LEED certification.

Although the organization of prerequisites and credits varies slightly depending on the building type and associated rating system, LEED is generally organized by the following broad concepts:

  • Integrative process
  • Location and transportation
  • Sustainable sites
  • Water
  • Energy
  • Materials and resources
  • Indoor environmental quality

How does a project achieve certification?

Achieving LEED certification requires satisfying all prerequisites and earning a minimum number of credits. Reference guides, designed to help project teams, explain credit criteria, describe the benefits of complying with the credit and suggest approaches to achieving credit compliance. The levels of certification generally follow these thresholds:

  • Certified: 40–49 points
  • Silver: 50–59 points
  • Gold: 60–79 points
  • Platinum: 80+ points

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