“An Overview of LEED Compliance”

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is an internationally recognized certification system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) to designate buildings which are notable for stewardship of our resources and for sensitivity to the structure’s impacts. It is a voluntary program that measures how well a building or community performs in the following key areas:

– the choice of sustainable sites and managing the site during construction. Development on previously undeveloped land is discouraged. The goals are to minimize a building’s impact on ecosystems and waterways; to encourage regionally appropriate landscaping; to reward smart transportation choices; to control storm water runoff; and to reduce erosion, light pollution, the heat island effect as well as construction-related pollution.
– water efficiency. Since buildings are major users of our potable water supply, the aim is to encourage smarter use of water, inside and out. This is typically achieved through more efficient appliances, fixtures and fittings inside, and water-wise landscaping outside.
– energy and atmosphere. The U.S. Department of Energy has determined that buildings use 39% of the energy and 74% of the electricity produced each year in the U.S. This category encourages such strategies as commissioning; energy use monitoring; efficient design and construction; efficient appliances, systems, and lighting; and the use of renewable and clean sources of energy, generated on-site or off-site.
– materials and resources. Buildings generate a lot of waste and also use a large amount of materials and resources, both during construction and when operational. The objective of this category is to promote the selection of sustainably grown, harvested, produced, and transported products and materials. It promotes the reduction of waste as well as reuse and recycling, and it takes into account the reduction of waste at a product’s source.
– indoor environmental quality. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Americans spend approximately 90% of their day indoors, where the air quality can be significantly worse than outside. This category promotes strategies that can improve indoor air as well as providing access to natural daylight and views and encouraging ways of improving acoustics.

The Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI)–an independent organization– administers LEED certification for all commercial and institutional projects registered under any LEED Rating System. It assures that LEED buildings are constructed and operated as intended, and it includes a network of ISO-compliant international certifying bodies that ensure the consistency, capacity, and integrity of the LEED certification process.

LEED points for Commercial Interiors are awarded on a 100-point scale, with credits weighted to reflect their potential environmental impacts in the categories listed previously. There are also 10 bonus points available, with 6 of these for innovation in design and 4 that address regionally specific environmental issues. To be certified, a building must earn at least 40 points. For 50 points it is rated “Silver”, while for 60 points it is certified “Gold”. The highest rating of “Platinum” is attained by scoring 80 or more points.

To learn more about the process to achieve LEED certification, go to www.usgbc.org. Since it is vital that planning for inclusion of green building practices begin at the inception of the project, the website provides a resource for connecting with LEED Accredited Professionals as well as detailing reference guides and templates for submitting the required documentation.

Author's Bio: 

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