Sought by architects, engineers, real estate professionals, government officials, and interior designers, the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification confirms that both human and environmental health issues have been addressed in the design and construction of a building. Four levels of LEED certification can be achieved via a point system based on five key aspects of building design and construction.
Indoor Environmental Quality
LEED certification is obtained once the U.S. Green Building Council has rated the indoor environmental quality of a structure. Good indoor air quality must be achieved by removing, diminishing, and controlling any source of air pollution within the building; providing a control device for the thermostat system to guarantee comfortable temperatures; and implementing connections to the outdoor environment. Up to 15 points toward a certification level can be obtained during the indoor environmental quality evaluation.
A building site will also be rated by the U.S. Green Building Council, with a maximum of 14 points being awarded. Points are given for the reuse of an existing building, for neither disrupting nor endangering natural or agricultural land, for a location that diminishes the need for automobile driving, and for the protection or restoration of natural sites during construction.
Up to five points in the water efficiency category can be awarded for installing systems that reduce water consumption and that treat water efficiently and in an environmentally sound manner.
Energy and Atmosphere
Up to 17 points can be earned in the energy and atmosphere category for maximizing a building’s energy efficiency, for using renewable and alternative energy sources, and for adhering to ozone protection protocols.
Materials and Resources
Up to 13 points can be earned in the material and resources category for using building materials that leave less of an environmental impact on the earth, and that reduce and control waste and decrease the quantity of materials needed.
The U.S. Green Building Council will award a building an extra five points for design innovations that make the structure excel beyond expectation in the previous categories, or for making a building green in a method not covered by the standard five categories.
A total of 69 points are possible in the above categories: 26 to 32 points earns basic LEED certification, 33 to 38 points earns a silver-level certification, 39 to 51 points earns gold-level certification, and 52 points or higher earns platinum certification.