What is LEED Certified?

Short for Leadership in Energy and Environment Design, LEED is a building certification that is recognized worldwide and signifies sustainability (environmentally, socially, and economically responsible buildings). Big or small, commercial or residential, new or old; any building structure is eligible to be awarded LEED certification. The process to becoming certified has evolved over time to be more precise and adaptable to new technologies. We unpack this process and the benefits of going through it in this post.

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), LEED’s administrating body uses a point system to rate buildings on their level of sustainability. There are different rating systems for various building categories such as schools, healthcare, retail, residential homes, as well as new, existing, or historic buildings. Based on the point system, buildings can achieve different levels of LEED certification from basic certification to silver, gold, and platinum. Achieving LEED certification generally adds 1%-6% to the total project cost. If designing for LEED certification is integrated into the project from the very beginning then the overall added cost for pursuing certification tends to be lower. If LEED certification is sought after the building is constructed, the cost will be significantly more. It pays to plan ahead!

There are direct and indirect benefits of LEED certification. Over the next three years, LEED certified buildings will collectively save an estimated $1.2 billion in energy, $150 million in water, and $54 million in waste. The dollars saved also translate to healthier buildings for their users, and a smaller ecological footprint — a win for everyone. And don’t discount the indirect benefits for commercial buildings, either. Customers, tenants, and visitors alike have a continually increasing appreciation for LEED certification as its popularity continues to grow.

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