LEED is the USGBC’s prestigious and globally recognized rating system that says to the world that, “this building is environmentally responsible to the internal (people in the building) and external environment (the planet). USGBC stands for U.S. Green Building Council, and they are the leaders in green building recognition. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, and can be applied to the design, construction, and/or operation of a building, neighborhood, or even home. LEED focuses on the “triple bottom line” or three main ideas: social benefits, environmental benefits, and financial benefits (or more simply: people, profit, and planet).
What is required of LEED?
At a minimum, a LEED certified building must meet certain requirements or “prerequisites” and a range of optional points or “credits” that consider what environmental benefits and strategies the project aims to achieve. The LEED rating system is as follows:
Each LEED project must meet all of the prerequisites +
40-49 Credits = Certified
50-59 Credits = Silver
60-79 Credits = Gold
80-110 Credits = Platinum
What are the benefits of LEED?
LEED focuses on the following eight categories (of prerequisites and credits) in order to provide benefits to people, profits, and the planet:
- Location and Transportation: this category considers and incentivizes building on sites that protect sensitive land and allow for more alternative commuting options. The goal is to reduce carbon emissions and promote “walkability” to services that prevent tenants from having to get in their cars and drive off-site.
- Sustainable Sites: this category focuses on reducing construction waste, protecting and restoring natural habitats, light pollution reduction, creating open space, managing rainwater, and reducing heat island effect.
- Water Efficiency: this category focuses on reducing water used inside the building and on-site.
- Energy and Atmosphere: this category focuses on reducing energy use by optimizing the building’s performance and reducing harmful refrigerants that are detrimental to our ozone and lead to increased global warming.
- Materials and Resources: this category requires recycling and encourages using renewable and sustainable resources (preferably from local providers).
- Indoor Environmental Quality: this category focuses on optimizing the air quality inside the building, maximizing daylighting and lighting controls, increasing views, and improving acoustics which leads to happier and more productive tenants.
- Innovation: this category encourages projects to think “outside the box” and come up with creative strategies that lead to a greener project.
- Regional Priority: this category focuses on issues that are important, relevant, and most beneficial to the immediate environment.
LEED buildings are “certified”; LEED professionals are “accredited”
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