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What Is LEED Certification and How Do You Get Certified?

What Is LEED Certification and How Do You Get Certified?

Sustainable business sites and projects not only decrease carbon emissions and improve human health, but they also successfully reduce costs and improve energy efficiency. For many sustainability-minded business owners and project managers, LEED certification is a coveted achievement in pursuing environmental excellence.

Let’s examine the basics of LEED certification, what it requires, and how to earn certification for your sites and projects.

What is LEED Certification?

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certification was developed in 1993  by the Green Building Council to encourage greener building practices. The certification system aims to assist business professionals in making company buildings more sustainable.

Over the past few decades, the LEED framework has expanded to five different certification groups, including:

  • Neighborhood Development
  • Operations and Maintenance
  • Building Design and Construction
  • Interior Design and Construction
  • Residential Homes

Private homes have additional groups to consider when seeking LEED certification, including awareness and education, location and linkage, regional priority, and innovative design.

For a commercial building to obtain LEED certification, it must earn a certain number of points in these categories:

  • Water Efficiency
  • Materials and Resources
  • Energy and Atmosphere
  • Sustainable Sites
  • Indoor Environmental Quality

LEED Point Levels

The level of LEED certification awarded depends on the number of points the site or project earns during a Green Building Council review. By adhering to LEED certification requirements regarding carbon usage, energy, waste, water, materials, transportation, and environmental quality, sites can earn one of four certification levels:

  • LEED Certification: 40-49 points
  • Silver: 50-59 points
  • Gold: 60-79 points
  • Platinum: 80+ points

How To Get LEED Certification

Earning LEED certification requires more than simply implementing efficient energy solutions in a commercial building. Instead, LEED status indicates a holistic system designed to utilize an array of green building practices to achieve long-term sustainability goals. Building improvements in the five categories mentioned above should aim to sustain water resources, protect the nearby ecosystems, use regenerative materials, enhance community health, and reduce the impact of climate change.

To obtain certification, businesses need to earn a series of prerequisite credits that translate into points. When a business has earned the minimum number of credits required to be considered for certification, the site or project will undergo a review that combines the required credits with points earned on-site. This combined number determines the LEED certification level awarded.

LEED certification is quite flexible, so businesses can choose which guidelines to focus on, depending on their unique business plans.

Becoming certified involves individualized steps in many cases, but the basics of how to get LEED certification include:

  1. Determining your desired level
  2. Selecting the correct rating system to use
  3. Beginning a LEED project
  4. Paying a certification fee
  5. Submitting pertinent data
  6. Waiting for confirmation from the Green Building Council

For additional information or assistance in pursuing LEED certification, contact the US Green Building Council or visit the official website to browse through the library of helpful resources the council has provided.