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Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)

Updated: Nov 14, 2023

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a certification program developed in 1993 by the US Green Building Council (USGBC) and was globally recognised and adopted. LEED provides a framework for healthy, efficient, carbon and cost-saving green buildings. The LEED certification process involves satisfying prerequisites and earning credits in different categories. Prerequisites are mandatory requirements that must be met before a project can earn any credits. Credits are optional and allow a project to earn additional points toward certification.

Empire State Building in New York City

The LEED rating categories

The current version of the LEED rating system, LEED v4.1, includes the following categories:

  1. Integrative Process: This category emphasizes the importance of early collaboration and planning among project team members to achieve sustainability goals.

  2. Location and Transportation: This category rewards projects that are located in areas with access to public transportation and that encourage non-motorized transportation options.

  3. Sustainable Sites: This category encourages the use of sustainable site development practices, including the preservation of natural resources and the reduction of waste.

  4. Water Efficiency: This category promotes the efficient use of water through the implementation of water-saving strategies and technologies.

  5. Energy and Atmosphere: This category focuses on reducing the energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions of buildings.

  6. Materials and Resources: This category promotes the use of sustainable building materials and the reduction of waste generated during construction and operation.

  7. Indoor Environmental Quality: This category emphasizes the importance of providing a healthy and comfortable indoor environment for building occupants.

  8. Innovation: This category rewards projects for implementing innovative strategies and technologies that go beyond the requirements of other LEED categories.

  9. Regional Priority: This category allows projects to earn additional points for addressing specific environmental priorities in their region.

To achieve LEED certification, a project must earn a minimum number of points in each category and a total number of points overall. The level of certification obtained (Certified, Silver, Gold, or Platinum) depends on the number of points earned. Such a certification increases the value and desirability of commercial as well as domestic properties.

Global reach

Since 1993 the number of LEED registrations has increased globally. To date, approximating 160 countries and territories are participating in LEED projects. In 2021, a research study by named the US as holding the number one position overall, with a total of 124,212 LEED certified projects. The highest accolade, LEED Gold for Existing Buildings, was awarded to The Empire State Building: Empire State Building | U.S. Green Building Council. The Republic of China took the second place with 5,678 LEED certified projects and Canada the third with 3,066 projects. India was fourth with 2,246 and the UAE firth with 2,029. The only European country within the top ten was Spain, with a total of 951. The UK barely registered.

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