The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification program was initiated in 1998 by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). The Program has six main goals:
- Define “green building” by establishing a common standard of measurement.
- Promote integrated, whole-building design practices.
- Recognize environmental leadership in the building industry.
- Stimulate “green” competition.
- Raise consumer awareness of green building benefits.
- Transform the building market.
The USGBC is a non-profit community of over 15,000 member builders, contractors and companies, who join with the intention providing green buildings to everyone by following and achieving the goals of the council. Leadership is elected by the members, who then make decisions as an operating board to update or improve certification requirements.
The USGBC rates LEED applicants according to six criteria:
- Sustainable Sites
- Water Efficiency
- Energy & Atmosphere
- Materials & Resources
- Indoor Environmental Quality
- Innovation & Design Process
Successful application of individual requirements within the larger criteria awards points that accumulate to achieve the different levels of LEED certification:
In order to accommodate different projects, LEED certification utilizes different rating systems:
- New Construction
- Existing Buildings
- Commercial Interiors
- Core and Shell
- Neighborhood Development
- Schools (K-12)
- Retail (new construction, major renovation, commercial interior)
There are very few negative aspects in the LEED certification process:
Increased initial cost of building materials and processes, though these will be more than returned in energy savings.
It also may be difficult to find contractors who are well versed in LEED terminology and requirements, which may slow the construction process, again increasing cost.
The program is still based around using fossil fuels. It rewards more efficient use of these fuels, but should push for alternatives.