Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)

What is LEED?

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a voluntary, market­-driven program that provides third-party certification of green buildings. From individual buildings and homes, to entire neighborhoods and communities, LEED is transforming the way our built environments are designed, constructed, and operated. 

Participation in the voluntary LEED process demonstrates leadership, innovation, environmental stewardship and social responsibility. LEED provides building owners and operators the tools they need to immediately impact their building’s performance and bottom line, while providing healthy indoor spaces for a building’s occupants.

LEED projects have been successfully established in 135 countries. International projects, those outside the United States, make up more than 50% of the total LEED registered square footage. LEED unites us in a single global community and provides regional solutions, while recognizing local realities.

How it works: For commercial buildings and neighborhoods, to earn LEED certification, a project must satisfy all LEED prerequisites and earn a minimum 40 points on a 110-point LEED rating system scale. Homes must earn a minimum of 45 points on a 136-point scale

v2009 Overview

LEED 2009 is not a complete rewrite of the LEED v2.2 that exists in the market but rather a reorganization of the existing commercial and institutional LEED rating systems along with several key advancements.

LEED 2009 includes three major enhancements:

Harmonization - Harmonization have been consolidated and aligned, drawing on their most effective common denominators so that credits and prerequisites are consistent across all LEED 2009 rating systems. Necessary precedent-setting and clarifying information from Credit Interpretation Rulings (CIRs) were incorporated into the rating systems. LEED for Homes and LEED for Neighborhood Development was not changed under LEED 2009.

Credit Weightings - The second major advancement that comes with LEED 2009 is that credits will now have different weightings depending on their ability to impact different environmental and human health concerns. With revised credit weightings, LEED now awards more points for strategies that will have greater positive impacts on what matters most – energy efficiency and CO2 reductions.  The impact categories were prioritized, and credits were assigned a value based on how they contributed to mitigating each impact. The result revealed each credit’s portion of the big picture, giving the most value to credits that have the highest potential for making the biggest change.  As a result, LEED 2009 will operate on a 100-point scale. 

Regionalization - Through USGBC’s regional councils, chapters and affiliates, regionally specific environmental issues were identified. For a project’s specific location, six LEED credits have been prioritized because they address the specific environmental issues for that region. The project will be awarded up to four extra points (one point per credit) for earning the priority credits.

LEED v4 Rating Systems

Rating systems are groups of requirements for projects that want to achieve LEED certification. Each group is geared towards the unique needs of a project or building type.

LEED is flexible enough to apply to all project types including healthcare facilities, schools, homes and even entire neighborhoods. The Rating System Selection Guidance will help you determine which specific rating system is right for your project.

Within each of the LEED credit categories, projects must satisfy prerequisites and earn points. The number of points the project earns determines its level of LEED certification.

Main credit categories:

- Sustainable sites credits encourage strategies that minimize the impact on ecosystems and water resources.
- Water efficiency credits promote smarter use of water, inside and out, to reduce potable water consumption.
- Energy & atmosphere credits promote better building energy performance through innovative strategies.
- Materials & resources credits encourage using sustainable building materials and reducing waste.
- Indoor environmental quality credits promote better indoor air quality and access to daylight and views.

Additional LEED for Neighborhood Development credit categories

- Smart location & linkage credits promote walkable neighborhoods with efficient transportation options and open space.
- Neighborhood pattern & design credits emphasize compact, walkable, vibrant, mixed-use neighborhoods with good connections to nearby communities.
- Green infrastructure & buildings credits reduce the environmental consequences of the construction and operation of buildings and infrastructure.

Additional LEED for Homes credit categories

- Location & linkage credits encourage construction on previously developed or infill sites and promotes walkable neighborhoods with access to efficient transportation options and open space.
- Awareness & education credits encourage home builders and real estate professionals to provide homeowners, tenants and building managers with the education and tools they need to understand and make the most of the green building features of their home.

Two bonus credit categories

- Innovation in design or innovation in operations credits address sustainable building expertise as well as design measures not covered under the five LEED credit categories. Six bonus points are available in this category.
- Regional priority credits address regional environmental priorities for buildings in different geographic regions. Four bonus points are available in this category.