What is LEED Certification?

LEED is an international green building certification system, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC): a non-profit organization with a mission to transform the building environment.  It’s one of the few standardized measures of energy efficiency.  Both commercial and residential buildings can obtain LEED Certification.  The process takes into account strategies used throughout the building process: from the first designs to maintenance and repair.

Essentially, it’s a points system.  Depending on the type of building, i.e., school, retail, home, healthcare, etc., a project must earn a certain number of minimum points for certification.  To give you an example, I’ll go through the process of gaining LEED certification for a home.

Before construction begins, you would contact a LEED for Homes local provider for support during the application process.  This provider would collaborate with the team designing and building your home to ensure LEED ratings are met.

During construction, a LEED Green Rater would come out to the site several times to confirm the installation of green measures at the level required.  That individual would also be responsible for filling out a number of checklists and evaluation forms to submit to the LEED for Homes provider for review and delivery to the USGBC.

The LEED for Homes Certification requires a minimum of 45 points from a number of project evaluations.  Categories include: Innovation & Design Process, Location & Linkages, Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Materials & Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality, Awareness & Education, and Energy & Atmosphere.  Lighting requirements, under the category of Energy & Atmosphere, involve installing ENERGY STAR®-labeled fixtures, lamps, and ceiling fans.

The LEED for Homes ratings system document alone is 114 pages long – you can see why you need LEED accredited professionals to aid in the process.

Although there are nine different ratings systems (for nine different building types), all projects are evaluated on a 100-point scale, with 10 bonus points available for specific regional environmental issues.  Each ratings system requires a minimum certification threshold.  Buildings that exceed those thresholds may be granted silver, gold, or platinum certification.

For more information, visit the USGBC site.

Emily Widle

Emily graduated from UNC Chapel Hill with a degree in journalism. She enjoys scouring the news to report on the latest in the lighting industry as well as bringing valuable remodeling tips and exemplar home projects to light.

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