How Buildings Can Earn Coveted LEED Certification

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Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a rating system created by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) to evaluate the environmental performance of a building and to encourage sustainable design.[1] Launched in 1994, LEED has since become the most widely used green rating system around the world. For a structure to receive the coveted designation of LEED-certified requires an intense process based upon multiple stringent factors.

To earn LEED certification, a building must meet goals in five areas: sustainable site, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, indoor environmental quality, and materials & resources.[2] Each of these design categories provides opportunities to leverage solutions that will make a structure greener, thus helping the building reach its LEED goals. The advantages of achieving LEED-certified status include creating a site that runs more efficiently and reduces environmental stress, as well as gaining access to attractive tax breaks and credits.

A LEED rating is awarded on a system of points: Certified (40-49 points), Silver (50-59 points), Gold (60-79 points), and Platinum (80+).[3] Products are not LEED rated, but the efficiencies they produce can help a site earn LEED points. Solutions that reduce a building’s carbon footprint and drive sustainability assist a structure in reaching the desired certification level. These can include eco-friendly building materials and renewable energy installations such as solar arrays.

Sites can also earn points for interior air quality by showing reduced levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These pollutants are emitted into the air from products or processes and can have harmful effects on human health. Another way to collect points is through the installation of water-efficient sinks, showers, toilets, and other fixtures that reduce the consumption of water resources. These products must be WaterSense labeled in order to be eligible for LEED points. Read more here about WaterSense labeled products that can help contribute LEED points.[4]

LEED is a globally recognized green building rating system used to score the sustainability of all types of edifices, from commercial to community to home projects. The system offers a framework for designing highly efficient, cost-saving green buildings that safeguard the environment and the health of individuals. Engineers, architects, and building owners can achieve a higher LEED score by making thoughtful decisions with respect to HVAC units, Low-E windows, doors containing energy efficient cores, smart lighting, intelligent control systems, and resource efficient plumbing fixtures.

Visit the US Green Building Council’s site to learn more about the requirements for LEED certification!


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