LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is an organization that provides guidelines and certification ratings for both professionals in the building industry and buildings themselves. These ratings represent the degree to which an individual or building has taken environmental sustainability into account.
LEED consulting can help your building attain the level of LEED certification you are hoping to achieve. The sooner a LEED consultant is involved in the design process, the better the results will be; LEED can also take the construction practices themselves into account in the rating. There are four levels of LEED certification, in ascending order: Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. A project may choose to aim for a certain level of certification for many reasons, including human health impacts, a desire to lower recurring energy and water costs, demonstrating a commitment to sustainability to customers, and institutional goals. There are many factors taken into account by the certification process: materials used in building, water efficiency, and occupant comfort, to name a few.1 While a LEED consultant can be a great asset during the design phase of a project, LEED certification is also an option for re-certification of an existing LEED building that is currently in use. Other certification options include specialized programs for residential homes, interior design and construction, and urban planning projects.1
The LEED certifications are calculated using a points system; a building needs 40-49 points to get Certified, 50-59 points to achieve Silver, 60-79 points for a Gold rating, and 80 or more points for a Platinum rating.1 These ratings are often prominently displayed on the front of certified buildings in order to demonstrate the resources that went into the institution’s commitment to the earth. That being said, it’s often not necessary to look at the certification seal to become aware that a building was designed with environmental principles in mind. Common hallmarks of LEED certified buildings and campuses involve sparingly-planted, drought tolerant groundcover and landscaping, strategically oriented floor-to-ceiling windows for temperature regulation, and strategic use of rooftop space for green roofing or solar photovoltaic arrays.
There are various versions of LEED certification standards based on where a project is situated in time and space. For example, the current project wave is LEED v4, which includes the most up-to-date building standards. Previous versions have been rolled out and then moved into a “sunset” phase, where both registration and certification are closed to new applicants. Additionally, certain standards are rolled out for certain geographical regions, like LEED India, which rolled out in 2016 and is expected to sunset in 2021. Certain standards have also focused on certain sectors of buildings, like LEED for schools and LEED for healthcare.
LEED certification is a good choice for buildings, especially those in the design phase, which will service progressive or sustainably-oriented institutions, as well as those buildings which seek to increase the health and wellbeing of the human users while lowering recurring energy and water costs. A skilled LEED consultant can help set your project up to attain the desired level of certification with less stress.