Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (aka LEED), is a green building rating system that is the most widely used in the world. For those who are not familiar with LEED, “LEED provides a framework to create healthy, highly efficient and cost-saving green buildings. LEED certification is a globally recognized symbol of sustainability achievement.” (LEED is green building, 2017).
Buildings that obtain LEED certifications are attractive to more than just building owners that want to go green or save on energy costs, going green is gaining momentum within the construction industry considering that according to USGBC, “buildings account for almost 40 percent of national CO2 emissions and out-consume both the industrial and transportation sectors, but LEED-certified buildings have 34 percent lower CO2 emissions, consume 25 percent less energy and 11 percent less water, and have diverted more than 80 million tons of waste from landfills.” (Benefits of Green Building, 2016). There are also several tax incentive rebates available for energy efficient buildings that are appealing to building owners and the ROI for more efficient systems in a building, such as HVAC, is usually within 3 years.
LEED can also help to boost a buildings public image as being environmentally sensitive by reducing the amount of energy it uses. Additionally, LEED is very attractive to tenants that are seeking a comfortable, more energy efficient establishment. The US Green Building Council states, “LEED buildings have faster lease-up rates and may qualify for a host of incentives like tax rebates and zoning allowances. Not to mention they retain higher property values.” (Knox, N. 2015) It’s no wonder LEED has been booming throughout the construction industry.
To achieve LEED status, the Green Building Council uses a 110 point system (100 base points and 10 additional points) to award a Certified, Silver, Gold or Platinum status to a building. A breakdown of levels by points awarded is below:
Certified 40–49 points
Silver 50–59 points
Gold 60–79 points
Platinum 80 points and above
(USGBC , 2009)
LEED uses a Project Checklist to give credit toward certification that is broken down by specific categories. Each category is worth a maximum number of points and includes areas such as Water efficiency points, Atmosphere and Energy, and Materials and Resources used in the construction of a building. Points are given when a building provides documentation/proof of what they claim to have achieved under such categories and in the end the points are tallied up to determine a buildings eligibility for LEED Certification (Example of Project Checklist in Exhibit A).
Exhibit A (USGBC , 2009)
LEED is the international standard of excellence in green building. With recent Energy Star score ratings in place and environmental considerations, attractive rebates and energy yearly energy savings, becoming LEED certified has more value than ever in the construction industry.