The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Rating System is a program managed by the US Green Building Council, which is a non-profit organization based in Washington, DC. LEED is a points-based system where a rating level is achieved once a project meets all of the prerequisites and a minimum number of points. Depending on the number of points earned, a project may be designated with a LEED Certified, LEED Silver, LEED Gold, or LEED Platinum designation.
The different LEED Rating Systems that commercial buildings can follow are:
- LEED Building Design + Construction (LEED BD+C), formerly LEED for New Construction / LEED-NC
- LEED Core & Shell (LEED CS)
- LEED Commercial Interiors (LEED CI)
- LEED Schools
- LEED Existing Buildings: Operations + Maintenance (LEED EB O+M)
- LEED Neighborhood Development (LEED ND)
- LEED Retail
- LEED Healthcare
The LEED Building Design + Construction (LEED BD+C) program is the most widely-used green building program. It is comprised of seven credit categories:
- Sustainable Sites (land use, transportation, appropriate site selection, heat island, light pollution)
- Water Efficiency (irrigation, regulated water fixtures - toilets, faucets, showerheads, process water)
- Energy Efficiency (energy code, energy conservation, refrigerant selection, renewable energy, green power)
- Materials & Resources (recycling, construction waste management, transportation of products)
- Indoor Environment (ASHRAE codes, indoor air quality, daylighting, occupant comfort, thermal comfort)
- Innovation in Design (exceeding LEED standards, innovative building features, education of occupants)
- Regional Priority (bonus points for meeting LEED credits that are important to the region)
The LEED CS, LEED CI, LEED Schools, LEED Retail, and LEED Healthcare programs are similar to LEED BD+C with slight variations specific to the building type. For additional information, see Related Resources.
The LEED EB O+M and LEED ND program categories are based on similar concepts (site, water, energy, materials) but are structured differently than LEED BD+C by focusing less on the new construction and more on the operations and maintenance of facilities and master-planning development of communities. For additional information, see Related Resources.
In commercial building, the LEED Rating System is becoming a standard of practice to measure sustainable design and construction principles. Some municipalities and government agencies require LEED compliance and certification when building a new facility or renovating an existing one. There may be local and/or federal funding incentives for building LEED facilities.
The project team registers the project with the US Green Building Council (USGBC), and a point person, the LEED Administrator, administers communication with the USGBC and Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI). This person may be a member of the owner’s staff, the design or construction team, or a third-party consultant. Although not required, this person is usually a LEED Accredited Professional (LEED AP); a designation earned after passing the US Green Building Council’s LEED AP examination.
Information from the design and construction team documenting the attributes of the LEED credits is managed by the LEED Administrator. Credit templates are completed via LEED-online webite throughout the design and construction process. The USGBC will review a portion of the documentation after design documents have been completed and again after construction of the facility has ended. The USGBC offers feedback to team members regarding the information. They will either accept, ask for clarifying information, or deny credits based on information submitted. The project team re-submits information to the USGBC, which then offers a “final ruling” on Certification Level. The team has the opportunity to appeal specific items at the end of each final review period.
The LEED program is widely-recognized by members of the commercial development industry and the Architecture, Engineering, and Contractor (AEC) industries. It is gaining recognition in the general population as people are becoming more knowledgeable about sustainability. Positive press and public relations are associated with LEED and sustainable, building. By attaining a certain LEED Certification Level, a project may be eligible for financial incentives by municipalities and/or the federal government. Designing and building to LEED specifications will save energy resulting in less pollution and less ongoing energy expense.
- There are additional services that may be required by building professionals such as LEED Administrators, Commissioning Agents, and Energy Modelers. These services may increase the overall budget for the project.
- The USGBC reviews the project data after the design documents have been completed (optional) and at the close of construction. The team may decide to make design and/or construction changes, which may increase the budget or lengthen the schedule.
- There are some building organizations, and/or product industries that may be excluded by LEED program requirements. Push-back from those organizations and industries may occur.
- A term, called greenwashing, is associated with product vendors or suppliers promising to deliver favorable sustainability goods and services resulting in LEED points. No product earns points by itself. Rather each contributes, in combination with other products and approaches, to LEED credits.
- Building Owners
- Project Managers
- Facility Managers
- Civil Engineers
- Landscape Architects
- MEP (Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing)
- Interior Designers
- General Contractors
USGBC Project Registration Fees: Member: $450 / Non-member: $600*
USGBC Project Certification Fees (< 50,000 sf): Member: $1750 / Non-member: $2250*
USGBC Project Certification Fees (50,000 sf – 500,000 sf): Member: $0.035 sf / Non-member: $0.045 sf*
USGBC Project Certification Fees ( > 500,000 sf): Member: $17,500 / Non-member: $22,500*
*prices effective through 12/31/09
LEED Administrator, Commissioning Agent, and Energy Modeling fees to be determined by external service providers
Additional LEED Programs
The LEED Core & Shell program is ideal for speculative building (offices, retail spaces) and partners well with LEED for Commercial Interiors for tenant upfit. The two programs are complementary and, combined, comprise the credits that make up the LEED BD+C program.
The LEED Schools program is ideal for K-12 school facilities. It is also similar to the LEED BD+C program, but consists of additional credits that focus on school campus master planning, community use of school facilities, acoustic design, mold prevention, the school building as a teaching tool, and others.
LEED Existing Buildings: Operations + Maintenance is ideal for existing building operations. The categories are similar to that of the LEED BD+C program. However, you will need to address separate, specific issues such as green cleaning, procurement of office supplies and equipment, as well as building modification if any is being done. There is significant effort required on the part of the building owner and /or building management to write policies addressing the operations and maintenance of the facility. The A/E/C (Architecture, Engineering, Contractor) industy does not have as much of a role, if at all, in LEED EB O+M.
The LEED Neighborhood Development program — available in 2009 — acts as a guideline for sustainable developments such as mixed-use projects. In addition to green building, this program focuses on overall site issues, density, connectivity to the community, and transportation.
LEED Retail (in pilot process 2009), LEED Healthcare, and other “spinoff” LEED Rating Systems are being developed in order to address specific needs of specialized building types. They will be similar to LEED BD+C with credits tailored to that building type.
US Green Building Council Website — program manager / general information about the LEED program
www.gbci.org Green Building Certification Institute – LEED Certification body / LEED Accridated Professional testing
The controlled admission of natural light into a space, used to reduce or eliminate electric lighting.Reduction in, or elimination of, the use of natural and other energy resources. Also includes installations or modifications of equipment or systems intended to reduce energy use and costs.Energy efficiency is the process of using less energy to produce the same or increased functions. Often used mistakenly as a synonym for ENERGY CONSERVATION. The collection, reprocessing, marketing, and use of materials that were diverted or recovered from the solid waste stream.The quality of air inside a building space that affects the health and wellbeing of building occupants. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a building rating system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) to measure energy efficiency. It provides a standard for environmentally sustainable construction.A term typically applied to real estate development projects that combine residential and commercial or retail components.The process of verifying and documenting that a building and all of its systems and assemblies are planned, designed, installed, tested, operated, and maintained to meet predetermined energy requirements.The ability or potential of a physical body to do work. The most common forms of energy are heat, light, mechanical (moving parts), and electrical.