Last edited 07 Mar 2016

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design LEED

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a voluntary environmental certification system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council in 2000. It covers design, construction, operation and maintenance. It is a competitor to the BREEAM environmental assessment method developed in the UK.

Separate LEED rating systems are available for:

  • New construction.
  • Existing buildings: operations and maintenance.
  • Commercial interiors.
  • Core and shell.
  • Schools.
  • Retail.
  • Healthcare.
  • Homes.
  • Neighbourhood development.

Where a mixed construction is used, a particular system must be adopted if more than 60% of the gross floor area is suitable for that system. If less than 40% is suitable, then that system should not be used, and if between 40 and 60% is suitable, adoption of that system is at the project teams discretion.

Projects are assessed against a range of categories:

  • Sustainable sites.
  • Water efficiency.
  • Energy and atmosphere.
  • Materials and resources.
  • Indoor environmental quality.
  • Locations and linkages (relating to transport and access to open space).
  • Awareness and education.
  • Innovation in design.
  • Regional priority (relating to local issues and priorities).

These categories are given credits which are then weighted, resulting in an overall score. Projects are then are rated as platinum, gold, silver or certified.

Documents demonstrating compliance with the appropriate system are submitted to the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) which provides third party verification of compliance.

As with other assessment methods, there has been shown to be some disparity between predicted performance and actual performance in use. There are also concerns that adopting LEED can increase the capital cost of a project (although whole-life costs may be reduced), and that LEED does not properly take into account local environmental conditions.

The latest version is LEED v4 which includes new market sector adaptations, a new online platform and updated credentials.

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