LEED certification

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is one of the most popular green building certification programs used worldwide. Developed by the non-profit U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) it includes a set of rating systems for the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of green buildings, homes, and neighborhoods that aims to help building owners and operators be environmentally responsible and use resources efficiently.

From 1994 to 2015, LEED grew from one standard for new construction to a comprehensive system of interrelated standards covering aspects from the design and construction to the maintenance and operation of buildings. LEED also has grown from six volunteers on one committee to 119,924 staff, volunteers and professionals. LEED standards have been applied to approximately 83,452 registered and certified LEED projects worldwide, covering around 13.8 billion square feet (1.28 billion square meters).

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a rating system devised by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) to evaluate the environmental performance of a building and encourage market transformation towards sustainable design. The system is credit-based, allowing projects to earn points for environmentally friendly actions taken during construction and use of a building. LEED was launched in an effort to develop a “consensus-based, market-driven rating system to accelerate the development and implementation of green building practices.” The program is not rigidly structured; not every project must meet identical requirements to qualify.

These LEED products are currently available:

  • LEED – v3.0 for New Construction and Major Renovations
  • LEED – for Homes
  • LEED – for Core and Shell
  • LEED – for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintanance
  • LEED – for Commercial Interiors
  • LEED – for Schools
  • LEED – for Retail
  • LEED – for Healthcare
  • LEED – for Neighborhood Development (in pilot stage)

LEED certification is a certification process aimed at rewarding sustainable and environmentally friendly decisions that are part of your construction process. It is a way to demonstrate to you and your customers, that certain environmental goals have been achieved during the design and construction of the structure or facility that is being certified. To be certified, the building project needs to obtain certain points and meet green building standards that will, later on, be validated during the certification process.

A LEED certified building can quality to obtain specific state and local government incentives, and can help boost press interest in your project. On November 2015, the latest certification process was based on LEED v4 system that is actualized from time to time, but be sure to verify with the USGBC the latest revision of the system before starting the certification process.

The latest LEED rating system consists of 5 different areas addressing multiple projects:

  • Building Design and Construction
  • Interior Design and Construction
  • Building Operations and Maintenance
  • Neighborhood Development
  • Homes

These 5 areas are then broken into smaller components where points are given and depending on a number of points received they can obtain one of the following categories:

  • CERTIFIED 40-49 Points
  • SILVER 50-59 Points
  • GOLD 60-79 Points
  • PLATINUM 80+ Points

It is very important to highlight that the rating system can be implemented in both, new construction and existing buildings.

LEED Certification Minimum Requirements

The LEED certification process needs to meet at a minimum these requirements:

  • Be in compliance with environmental regulations and standards
  • Must meet the threshold of floor area requirements
  • Meet a minimum of building occupancy in terms of number of users
  • Maintain a reasonable site boundary
  • Be a permanent building
  • Share energy and water usage data
  • Must have a minimum building to site area ratio

LEED Certification Credit Categories

In order to earn credits to achieve one of the above categories, the project must meet certain criteria and goals within the following categories:

  • Location and transportation – You should take into consideration the location of your project and how it can be combined with the transportation option within the area, in other words how the users of the facility can get in and out of the facility.
  • Materials and Resources- Earn credits by using sustainable and earth-friendly products, while reducing waste promoting better indoor air quality.
  • Water efficiency – The building must be designed in such way that potable water usage is reduced or resources can be reused, minimizing the needs of water inside the building.
  • Energy and atmosphere – The building must enhance energy performance and promote great indoor air and environmental quality.
  • Sustainable sites – Design the project in such way that the natural resources and ecosystems nearby can naturally take part of the design minimizing environmental pollution.
  • Indoor environmental quality – Increase daylight usage and promote natural ventilation.
  • Innovation – Any idea that is not cover under the five LEED main areas.
  • Regional priority credits – Addressing any particular concern based on the regional or geographical location.

LEED for Neighborhood Development provides for a couple of additional credit categories such as smart location & linkage, neighborhood pattern & design and green infrastructure & buildings

LEED Certification Benefits

Getting certified or having your building certified under LEED will reduce your building operation and maintenance costs while promoting a great working and indoor environmental for all building users. Not to mention, that it will create a healthier and more productive workplace and it can also be an excellent selling point for your project. Additional benefits of being LEED certified is that it will:

  • Reduces liability
  • Reduce energy and water usage
  • Promote better indoor air quality
  • Reduce maintenance and operation costs
  • Reduce construction waste during the process
  • Promote and attracts companies with sustainable goals
  • Promote the usage of recycled material.

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