ABC’s of LEED (Part 1)

Published on: March 24, 2015

Filled Under: Weighing In

Views: 2636

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a third-party certification program developed by the US Green Building Council (USGBC) in 1998. Since its inception, LEED has become the most popular and widely used green building rating system world-wide. Achieving LEED certification is a top goal for both private and public organizations, with LEED Gold certification being set as the goal for a majority of organizations.

According to the USGBC, there are currently more than 69,000 LEED building projects located in over 150 countries and territories as of January 2015. In the U.S., more than 3.6 billion square feet of building space are LEED certified. These numbers indicate the explosive growth of the green building movement in North America and beyond, demonstrating a growing global consensus about the imperative to create a greener built environment.

Factors driving the popularity of LEED certification include:

  1. Strong market demand
  2. High cost savings for businesses and taxpayers
  3. Public heath gains
  4. Steady gains in the percentage of large, non-residential commercial or industrial projects that are green
  5. Federal, state and municipal mandates and policies
  6. Increased property values
  7. Low rental vacancy rates for LEED-certified buildings

The latest version of the LEED program, LEED Version 4, was launched in November 2013. LEED Version 4 builds on the fundamentals of previous versions while offering a new system that prepares all LEED projects to perform at a higher level.

Highlights of LEED Version 4 include:

  • New market sectors: New market sector adaptations for LEED include data centers, warehouses and distribution centers, hospitality, existing schools, existing retail and mid-rise residential projects.
  • Time-saving support tools and resources: Simplified LEED credit submittal requirements, descriptive step-by-step reference guide materials with videos and tutorials, and a more intuitive technology platform.
  • Building performance management: LEED Version 4 is focused on outcomes so that building owners have a better understanding of how to manage their buildings to meet full performance potential.
  • New impact categories: Climate change, human health, water resources, biodiversity, green economy, community and natural resources.

All new projects are required to apply under the LEED Version 4 requirements. Further information can be found at


Rating Systems

There are several rating systems that can be applied for. Each rating system is based on requirements that address the unique needs of the building or project on its path toward LEED certification. Once a ratings system has been chosen, the owner can use appropriate credits within the system to guide their design and operational decisions.

There are five ratings systems that address multiple project types:

  1. Building Design and Construction (BD+C). Applies to buildings that are being newly constructed or going through a major renovation; categories include New Construction, Core & Shell, Schools, Retail, Hospitality, Data Centers, Warehouses & Distribution Centers, and Healthcare.
  2. Interior Design and Construction (ID+C). Applies to projects that are a complete interior fit-out; categories include Commercial Interiors, Retail and Hospitality.
  3. LEED for Building Operations and Maintenance (O+M). Applies to existing buildings that are undergoing improvement work or little to no construction; categories include Existing Buildings, Schools, Retail, Hospitality, Data Centers, and Warehouses & Distribution Centers.
  4. LEED for Neighborhood Development (ND). Applies to new land development projects or redevelopment projects containing residential uses, nonresidential uses, or a mix. Projects can be at any stage of the development process, from conceptual planning to construction; includes the categories Plan and Built Project.
  5. Applies to single family homes, low-rise multi-family (one to three stories), or mid-rise multi-family (four to six stories); categories include Homes and Multifamily Lowrise and Multifamily Midrise.

Within each ratings system, numerous credit categories are described, with point values assigned for each credit. As credits are satisfied, points are accrued. The total number of points earned determines which certification level (Certified, Silver, Gold, or Platinum) the building qualifies for.

Point Values

Points are awarded based on the design of energy-efficient systems and environmentally-friendly practices. The “whole building” approach precludes the awarding of points based solely on installation of environmentally-friendly products; the building owner must prove that the overall design accomplishes the goal laid out in the Ratings System.

Monitoring and Measuring

Implementing sensors, monitors, and energy meters is essential in gaining the needed reductions in waste, and data to prove and earn LEED accreditation.

This is the first in a series focusing on environmental sensors and energy management solutions in LEED certification projects. Stay tuned for future posts on how monitoring and measuring plays into LEED’s rating systems and the different project types.


Interested in learning more about LEED Certification and related products? Contact a specialist today: 800.354.8556 or at

What questions do you have when it comes to LEED Certification? Send us your questions!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *