Monday, May 13, 2013

What does it mean to be LEED Certified? How does your building score?

Many understand that a LEED certified building means that it's greener but don't know what it means completely.  LEED is a rating system that grades how green a building or project is.  What is the score of your building?

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, is a building certification process developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), a non-profit organization (not a government agency) headquartered in Washington, D.C.
The USGBC developed the LEED certification process to enhance environmental awareness among architects and building contractors, and to encourage the design and construction of energy-efficient, water-conserving buildings that use sustainable or green resources and materials.
The LEED certification process uses a point system to determine the environmental merits of a building; there are different rating systems for homes, commercial buildings, interior renovations, schools, neighborhood developments, and other construction projects.

For most projects, there are four levels of LEED certification, depending on how many points the project has earned: certified, silver, gold or platinum. 

According to the USGBC, there are nine key areas measured by LEED:

LEED is flexible enough to apply to all project types including healthcare facilities, schools, homes and even entire neighborhoods. 

Projects earn points to satisfy green building requirements

Within each of the LEED credit categories, projects must satisfy prerequisites and earn points. The number of points the project earns determines its level of LEED certification.

Main credit categories

  • Sustainable sites credits encourage strategies that minimize the impact on ecosystems and water resources.
  • Water efficiency credits promote smarter use of water, inside and out, to reduce potable water consumption.
  • Energy & atmosphere credits promote better building energy performance through innovative strategies.
  • Materials & resources credits encourage using sustainable building materials and reducing waste.
  • Indoor environmental quality credits promote better indoor air quality and access to daylight and views.

Additional LEED for Neighborhood Development credit categories

  • Smart location & linkage credits promote walkable neighborhoods with efficient transportation options and open space.
  • Neighborhood pattern & design credits emphasize compact, walkable, vibrant, mixed-use neighborhoods with good connections to nearby communities.
  • Green infrastructure & buildings credits reduce the environmental consequences of the construction and operation of buildings and infrastructure.

Additional LEED for Homes credit categories

  • Location & linkage credits encourage construction on previously developed or infill sites and promotes walkable neighborhoods with access to efficient transportation options and open space.
  • Awareness & education credits encourage home builders and real estate professionals to provide homeowners, tenants and building managers with the education and tools they need to understand and make the most of the green building features of their home.

Two bonus credit categories

  • Innovation in design or innovation in operations credits address sustainable building expertise as well as design measures not covered under the five LEED credit categories. Six bonus points are available in this category.
  • Regional priority credits address regional environmental priorities for buildings in different geographic regions. Four bonus points are available in this category.
Information Provided by
Donna Antonucci
Prudential Castle Point Realty