LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) rating systems are developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). USGBC is a balanced, consensus-based nonprofit with more than 18,000 member companies and organizations representing the entire building industry. Green building practices can substantially reduce or eliminate negative environmental impacts through high-performance, market-leading design, construction, and operations practices. As an added benefit, green operations and management reduce operating costs, enhance building marketability, increase workers’ productivity, and reduce potential liability resulting from indoor air quality problems.
The LEED rating systems are designed for rating new and existing commercial, institutional, and residential buildings. They are based on accepted energy and environmental principles and strike a balance between known, established practices and emerging concepts. The rating systems are organized into 8 categories, as shown on the figure:
Moreover, LEED includes Regional Priority credits to address geographically specific environmental issues, which shows the importance of local conditions in determining best environmental design and construction practices.
LEED addresses the different project development and delivery processes that exist in building design and construction market, through rating systems for specific building typologies, sectors, and project scopes: LEED for Core & Shell, LEED for New Construction, LEED for Schools, LEED for Neighborhood Development, LEED for Retail, LEED for Healthcare, LEED for Homes, LEED for Commercial Interiors and LEED for Existing Buildings.
All LEED rating systems have 100 base points; Innovation in Design (or Operations) and Regional Priority credits provide opportunities for up to 10 bonus points. The allocation of points between credits is based on the potential environmental impacts and human benefits of each credit with respect to a set of impact categories. The impacts are defined as the environmental or human effect of the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of the building, such as greenhouse gas emissions, fossil fuel use, toxins and carcinogens, air and water pollutants, indoor environmental conditions.
Buildings are awarded points based on the extent various sustainable strategies are achieved. The more points awarded the higher the level of certification achieved:
• Certified 40–49 points
• Silver 50–59 points
• Gold 60–79 points
• Platinum 80 points and above
Project teams interact with the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) for project registration and certification. GBCI was established in 2008 as a separately incorporated entity with the support of the U.S. Green Building Council. GBCI administers credentialing and certification programs related to green building practice.
The Green Building Certification Institute has developed a suite of LEED Professional credentials to denote leadership in green building, with the LEED Accredited Professional (AP) distinguishing building professionals with the knowledge and skills to successfully steward the LEED certification process.
All staff within GreenBIM Engineering are LEED Accredited Professionals with specialty.
The green building field is growing and changing daily. New technologies and products are being introduced into the marketplace, and innovative designs and practices are proving their effectiveness. The LEED rating systems and reference guides are evolving as well.
LEED v4, le newest version of LEED Green building program, was launched at USGBC’s annual Greenbuild conference. LEED v4 encourages and accelerates global adoption of sustainable green building and development practices through the creation and implementation of universally understood and accepted tools and performance criteria. It includes new market sectors, time saving support tools and resources, stronger focus on building performance management and new impact categories.