This week TSL will continue its Green Glossary, where we do our best to explain and define complicated sustainability terms in one easy to read blog post. TSL will make sure you have plenty to talk about at your next Sustainable Dinner Party (tacos, anyone?) by filling you in on LEED Certifications. Whether you have heard of LEED or not, it’s a big deal. LEED has certified more than 7,000 projects that cover more than 1. 5 billion (yes, that’s billion, with a B) square feet in more than 30 countries. Though there is a lot to cover, TSL is going to make this as simple as possible, so we will start by answering the most basic question. What does LEED mean?
LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, a program developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (Just an FYI – despite its name, USGBC is not a government organization) in 2000. Essentially, LEED provides building owners and operators with a framework for green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions. The principal way LEED accomplishes this is through their certification process, where a third party verified by USGBC rates a “whole-building” approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health: Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy and Atmosphere, Materials and Resources and Indoor Environmental Quality. There are two bonus categories: Innovation in Design and Regional Priority, where additional points can be earned.
The rating system is quite easy to understand. Buildings are rated as either: Certified (40-49 points), Silver (50-59 points), Gold (60-69 points) or Platinum (80+). The point system is a bit more complicated. Points are awarded on a 100-point scale (that part’s easy enough) with 10 bonus credits available for Innovation in Design (6 points) and Regional Priority (10 points). However, seeing as not all buildings can be evaluated in the same fashion, LEED breaks down the value points differently for each of category. Categories include New Construction, Existing Buildings, Schools, Commercial Interiors and Core & Shell. If you’re curious, you can figure out how each category is broken down into a point system here. Want to see a breakdown of LEED certified buildings in Massachusetts? We have that covered, too.
Wondering how to obtain a LEED certification? Thinking that your building can become the next LEED certified building in Massachusetts? All you have to do is submit an application documenting compliance with the requirements of the rating system (and paying registration and certification fees). Find out more about applying here.
Any additional questions about LEED certification? Have another topic you want TSL to tackle in its next Green Glossary? Sound off below.