What is a LEED Certification?

I recently met an engineer at the ESWP (Engineer Society of Western Pennsylvania) with a LEED Green Assoc. title on his business card. I had no idea what it was. After some research, here is what I found.LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. It is a popular green building certification developed by the non-profit organization the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and used worldwide as a green building certification. The USGBC uses a rating system for the design, operation, construction and maintenance of commercial buildings, homes, and neighborhoods. The program helps building owners and operators to be environmentally friendly and use resources more responsibly.

In the U.S., buildings account for:

38% of all CO2 emissions

13.6% of all potable water (15 trillion gal./year)

73% of U.S. electricity consumption

LEED projects are responsible for diverting over 80 million tons of waste from landfills. Compared to the average commercial building, LEED Gold buildings in the General Services Administration’s portfolio consume a quarter less energy and generate 34% lower greenhouse gas emissions.

More than 79,000 projects are participating in LEED across 160 countries and territories, comprising over 15 billion square feet. USGBC estimates that nearly 5 million people experience a LEED building every day. Many of the world’s most well-known buildings have earned LEED certification.

How It Works:

LEED projects earn points across nine basic areas that address key aspects of green buildings. http://leed.usgbc.org/leed.html

  1. Integrative process
  2. Location and transportation
  3. Sustainable sites
  4. Water efficiency
  5. Energy and atmosphere
  6. Materials and resources
  7. Indoor environmental quality
  8. Innovation
  9. Regional priority


The benefits of LEED Buildings from http://www.everbluetraining.com/what-is-leed:

  • provide a competitive differentiator
  • make for happier employees and occupants
  • attract tenants
  • save energy and resources, lower operating costs
  • are cost effective
  • provide public relations community benefits
  • increase rental rates
  • optimize health

In order for a building project to earn LEED Certification, it must meet certain criteria and goals within the following categories:

Location and Transportation – how close the project is to mass transit

Materials and Resources – use locally sourced, sustainable products

Water Efficiency – reduce potable water usage

Energy and Atmosphere – improve energy performance and indoor air quality

Sustainable Sites – utilize nearby natural resources and ecosystems that can naturally take part of the design, minimizing environmental pollution

Regional Priority Credits – addressing a particular concern based on location

Innovation – any idea not covered under the main LEED areas

According to http://leed.usgbc.org/leed.html several types of credential levels and over 201,000 individuals have earned the following:

LEED AP – Affirms advanced knowledge in green building and expertise in a particular LEED rating system. The LEED AP is available with a variety of specialties for professionals to demonstrate proficiency in certain building types.

LEED Green Associate – Demonstrates a solid and current foundation in green building principles and practices.

LEED Fellow – A peer-nominated designation awarded to highly accomplished individuals with ten or more years of professional green building experience.


The following is required to gain the LEED credentials

  • Proper Experience
  • Written letter for exam approval
  • Pass the LEED exam

For more information on credentials click on the following link:


One Comment on “What is a LEED Certification?

  1. Pingback: What do Engineers do?

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