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US Green Building Council’s – LEED Program & How It Works

US Green Building Council’s – LEED Program & How It Works

What is LEED?

The Goals of the LEED Programs

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) programs are the USGBC’s primary vehicle for promoting sustainable design and construction.

A LEED Rating System is a measurement system designed for rating new and existing commercial, institutional and residential buildings. It is based on accepted energy and environmental principles and strikes a balance between known established practices and emerging concepts.

The rating system evaluates environmental performance from a whole building perspective over a building’s life cycle, providing a definitive standard for what constitutes a “green building.”

The LEED Rating Systems

LEED Rating Systems provide a roadmap for measuring and documenting success for every building type and phase of a building lifecycle. Specific LEED programs include:

New Construction. Designed to guide and distinguish high-performance commercial and institutional projects, with a focus on office buildings. New Construction certification has also been applied to K-12 schools, multi-unit residential buildings, manufacturing plants, laboratories and many other building types.

Commercial Interiors. Designed for the tenant improvement market, it provides a system of sustainable choices to tenants and designers, who do not always have control over whole building operations. It is a recognized standard for certifying high-performance interiors.

Core and Shell. Covers base building elements, such as the structure, envelope and building-level systems, such as central HVAC. This System recognizes that owner and tenant responsibility for certain elements of the building varies between markets, and encourages the implementation of green design and construction practices in areas where the developer has control.

Existing Buildings. Provides a recognized, performance-based benchmark for building owners and operators to measure operations, improvements and maintenance on a consistent scale.

Homes. Promotes the design and construction of high performance “green” homes. This system is currently being pilot tested. More than 200 builders representing 1600 homes across the U.S. are participating. The pilot test will conclude in spring 2007, and USGBC will publicly launch the LEED for Homes rating system during the summer of 2007.

Neighborhood Development. Integrates the principles of smart growth, urbanism, and green building into the first national standard for neighborhood design. LEED certification provides independent, third-party verification that a development’s location and design meet accepted high standards for environmentally responsible, sustainable, development. This system is a collaboration between the USGBC, the Congress for the New Urbanism, and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Schools. Based on LEED for New Construction, this system recognizes the unique nature of the design and construction of K-12 schools. It addresses issues such as classroom acoustics, master planning, and mold prevention. LEED for Schools is currently open for member ballot, which is the final step in the LEED development process.

Credits and Credit Categories

Credit categories are the first level of organization in the LEED rating systems. Each category contains a manageable set of related requirements that the design team can incorporate into its design. Although there is some variation in the categories in the different rating systems, the list is a good guide to what the credit categories are.

The requirements in each category are called credits because when they are incorporated into a design, they are worth one or more points. In the end, it is the total number of points that is achieved by a design that determines how it is certified.

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