What Is LEED?

Home & Family, Living Green
on November 8, 2011

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, is an international recognized green building certification system created by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). Its purpose, according to the USGBC website is to "provides building owners and operators with a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions." In other words, its aim is to help building owners make their properties more energy efficient.

How does LEED promote energy efficient building? LEED uses a ratings system to highlight strategies that lead to better environmental performance. The ratings system was developed with input from volunteers from the building and construction industry.

How is the ratings process carried out? Nobody wants to be labeled an energy waster, and those who are wasting energy need solutions to make their buildings more efficient. LEED, therefore, has established a transparent and balanced ratings committee structure that allows input from a cross section of builders and contractors. The technical advisory committee of LEED has established consistent standards and fair and open appeals.

What kinds of buildings are involved in energy and environmental design? LEED standards apply to commercial and residential buildings. The council can be involved at all phases of construction, including design, operations and maintenance, tenant fitout and retrofitting.

What does LEED measure? The USGBC provides standard criteria for a successful rating:

  • Site sustainability. Buildings on previously developed lots receive a higher rating than those constructed on previously undeveloped sites. Other factors include impact on natural resources, regionally appropriate landscaping and the control of storm water runoff.
  • Water efficiency. Because buildings use a lot of water, the LEED ratings system takes into account how efficient buildings are at water consumption.
  • Energy and atmosphere. LEED looks at energy use monitoring, efficient design and construction, energy efficient appliances, the use of renewable and clean sources of energy, and other measures.
  • Materials and resources. During the construction phase, LEED looks at the amount of materials wasted and the selection of sustainably grown, harvested, produced and transported products and materials. LEED promotes reused and recycled materials.
  • Indoor environment. A highly rated building protects the air outside and inside the building.

The USGBC is always willing to help building owners construct more energy efficient buildings.