What is LEED certification?

Solar panels on a home can earn points towards LEED certification.

LEED certification is an acknowledgment that a building or construction project can achieve using environmentally sound construction practices during construction or renovation. The name is the acronym that stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and is the Green Building Rating System developed by the US Green Building Council. The model was developed in 1998 to encourage environmental awareness among government agencies, architects, engineers, developers and builders.

LEED certification is awarded to owners of commercial buildings that meet specific sustainability standards set by the US Green Building Council.

There are four different levels at which LEED certification can be obtained – Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum – and they are determined by a credit or point system. A building or project can achieve LEED certification by submitting an application documenting compliance with the requirements set out in the rating system. The Green Building Council issues LEED certification upon satisfactory application, review and verification of compliance. There are fees associated with this certification.

Wind turbines can be included in construction projects to provide electricity.

While the design and construction of buildings has used green practices in the past, LEED was developed to provide a simplified set of building standards. The government has been working to create a model of sustainable green building, achieving certification in many of its state buildings. In order to increase the number of new and rebuilt buildings qualifying for LEED certification, the government also offers many incentives within the construction industry, including subsidies and tax breaks based on the level of LEED certification achieved.

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Environmental engineering can play a consulting role in the design and construction of manufacturing facilities to ecologically sound standards.

LEED professional accreditation can also be obtained by individuals, contractors, project managers and other industry professionals. Professional accreditation demonstrates that an individual or company is well versed in the LEED system and can work with other individuals and developers to oversee the construction process and follow guidelines for achieving certification.

Some of the practices used or observed for LEED certification include using recycled material, eliminating or reducing the amount of waste leaving a job site, reusing existing material, using sustainable green building material, and using low emission materials, like caulk and sealers.

Certification can be obtained in both new construction and renovations. The Green Building Council has awarded LEED certification to a number of new construction projects in the state of California, including the Department of Motor Vehicles in San Ysidro and the Department of Education in Sacramento, both Gold-certified. Many other states can also boast of government buildings that are certified, and this has also been largely achieved in the private sector.

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