What is LEED and what can it bring to the sustainable design table?

by Cody Hill –

What is LEED and what can it bring to the sustainable design table?

LEED is an acronym used to identify buildings, homes, neighborhoods, and construction projects that exemplify Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. There are four levels of certification in regards to LEED which “rank” where the building stands in its energy efficiency, environmental impact, and sustainability. A building that is certified in LEED offers a variety of benefits, both immediate and long-term. Let’s take a deeper look at LEED and highlight some of the buildings that meet each level.

4 Categories of LEED
New construction projects are ranked on a tiered system and must fall within 1 of 4 categories. These categories are: Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum (Platinum being the highest, Certified being the lowest). Placement is based upon the number of credits accrued in five categories of green design.

– Water efficiency
– Energy and atmosphere
– Materials and resources
– Indoor environmental quality
– Sustainable sites

Benefits of LEED?
Being certified as a LEED building offers benefits. For one, the costs associated with building operation will cost less as a result of efficient use of energy and water. In addition the building will be valued higher as a result of it being environmentally friendly, sustainable, and resource efficient. You will also be recognized publicly for being a leader in energy and environmental design (who would have thought?!) which is a prestigious and honorable award.

Improving the Environment – Inside and Out
It should be noted that the inside of the office building should also be environmentally friendly. As one of the five green design categories includes indoor environmental quality, LEED may attract additional employees to the workplace. Having high air quality within the office interior is something that not many employees get to experience, but when a construction project is certified it is just an added benefit included.


Buildings LEED Certified
– Taipei 101: Platinum (Taiwan)
– Bank of America Tower: Platinum (New York City, NY)
– Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability: Platinum (Vancouver, BC)
– RBC WaterPark Place: Platinum (Toronto, ON)

Since its creation back in 1998, LEED has been implemented in 30 countries and been applied to thousands of building projects here in the U.S. Four states have banned LEED in public building projects for various reasons, but the case remains solid for LEED as an environmentally friendly and ecologically advantageous system.


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