LEED Certification is a globally recognized standard for green and sustainable buildings. But there isn’t a single definition of “LEED Certified”. There are four main levels, all with an abundance of categories and specifications that measures everything from commercial to residential buildings.
The 4 Main Levels & The Grading System
The 4 main levels of LEED Certification are Green, Silver, Gold and Platinum. Each of these levels is achieved after earning a certain amount of points in a LEED Certification analysis.
Every project that signs up to be LEED Certified is looked at for a specific set of criteria, each worth a certain amount of points. Sustainable construction practices, materials used, energy efficiency, new technology, water and waste management systems and many other things are used to determine how many points a project is awarded.
Some specifics include:
- Access to public transit
- Urban Heat Island reduction
- Indoor and outdoor water use reduction
- Light pollution protections
- Open space
- Protection or restoration of natural surrounding habitats
- Construction Activity Pollution Prevention
The goal isn’t to meet every single point, but to aim to find solutions that work for the building and the environment. Of course, the more you have, the more points you get and the higher the certification you achieve.
Building Types & Phases within the LEED Certification System
The beauty of the LEED Certification is that it is not unique to new builds, commercial buildings or any other category. In fact, there are specific categories within each of the four tiers that a building can apply for.
These building types for LEED Certification categories include:
BD+C: Building Design and Construction
- For new construction projects and buildings undergoing major renovations
- Can also work for schools, warehouses, healthcare facilities, distribution centers and more
ID+C: Interior Design Construction
- Refers to projects that retrofit interiors of buildings
- Includes commercial interiors, and buildings for retail or hospitality
O+M: Building Operations and Maintenance
- For existing buildings that are being improved with little or no actual construction wor
- Can apply for schools, retail and hospitality buildings, warehouses and more
ND: Neighbourhood Development
- For both new and redevelopment land projects that include residential uses, non-residential uses or a mix of the two
- Focuses on reducing urban sprawl and insuring that surround areas of buildings are also environmentally friendly and sustainable
- Applies for both plan and build projects
- Plan projects are in any phase of planning and design and up to 75% constructed
- Build projects are specific for neighbourhood projects near completion or that were completed in the past 3 years
- A specific category for single-family and multi-rise family homes with 1-3 or 4-6 stories.
Cities and Communities
- Entire cities or subdivisions can be awarded and achieve LEED Certification
- LEED for Cities looks at the following:
- Water consumption
- Energy use
- Human experience
- Buildings that have already been certified can be recertified to help maintain and improve a building
- Helps to keep sustainable improvements at top-of-mind for the entire lifespan of a building and keep the green investment of buildings in place
- Applies for all occupied and in-use projects that have already been certified under LEED
- All leed projects under the BD+C or O+M rating systems or those that are already signed up to achieve O_M Certification
- Specific for projects with “net-zero goals” of carbon and/or resources.
Getting LEED Certified
No matter the project type or how many points you may think you will get, any and every project should register to be LEED Certified. Having an eco-review of a building cannot only help to educate builders on what sustainability can look like but can give some great ideas on easy ways to make a building greener.
These levels also show that perfection is not the goal. Every action matters and LEED is helping to show this. Getting 100/100 on the LEED score is not what projects should be aiming for but instead to do what can be done for specific projects to collectively make the world a healthier place.