LEED certification — also known as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design — is an accreditation system in the building sector that encourages green, sustainable building design.
What is LEED and Why Does It Matter?
- LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design
- LEED provides builders with a practical framework for creating healthy, highly efficient, and cost-saving green buildings
- Virtually all building types can earn LEED certification in one of four levels
LEED was created in 1998 by the U.S. Green Building Council in response to growing climate change concerns. Now, it’s the most widely used green building rating system in the world, as it provides builders with a practical framework for creating healthy, highly efficient, and cost-saving green buildings. LEED certification is available for virtually all building types, and LEED-certified buildings boast several key benefits:
- Economic benefits. From 2015 to 2018, LEED certified buildings saved $1.2 billion in energy, $149.5 million in water, $715.3 million in maintenance, and $54.2 million in waste. LEED-certified buildings are also eligible for a variety of tax incentives.
- Health benefits. LEED certification is proven to improve indoor air quality and lessen symptoms of asthma, respiratory allergies, depression and stress. Employers within LEED-certified buildings also report higher recruitment rates, higher retention rates, and increased employee productivity.
- Environmental benefits. LEED-certified buildings produce 34% less CO2 emissions, consume 25% less energy, and consume 11% less water than non-certified buildings. LEED certification has also prevented more than a total of 80 million tons of waste from ending up in landfills globally.
LEED Certification Credit Categories
A building or project earns LEED credits by addressing areas like carbon, energy, water, waste, materials, and indoor environmental quality. There are currently nine LEED categories:
focuses on restoring project site elements, integrating the site with local and regional ecosystems, and preserving the biodiversity that natural systems rely on.
is about conserving water through indoor use, outdoor use, specialized uses, and metering. As part of this category, LEED-certified buildings should use 20% less water than a building of similar size with the same number of full-time employees.
Energy and Atmosphere
encourages builders to design a building that uses as little energy as possible through conservation, efficiency, and renewable energy sources.
Materials and Resources
focuses on minimizing the impacts of the extraction, processing, transport, maintenance, and disposal of building materials.
Indoor Environmental Quality
addresses environmental factors like air quality, lighting quality, and acoustics that influence the way people learn, work, and live.
Innovation in Design
is about going above and beyond traditional sustainable building practices and strategies to finding new, innovative features for buildings.
addresses the environmental, social equity, and public health priorities that are specific to the geographic area where a building is being constructed.
encourages builders to identify and use opportunities to achieve synergies across disciplines and building systems, starting in predesign and continuing throughout the design phases.
Location and Transportation
considers the existing features of the surrounding community (like public transit, amenities, restaurants, and more) and how this infrastructure can affect a building occupant’s behavior and environmental impact.
LEED Certification Levels
Within each of the above nine categories are specific credits that builders can earn to become LEED certified. It’s up to you as a builder to choose which credits you want to earn, as long as it applies to your project type:
- 35% of credits reduce a building’s contribution to global climate change
- 20% of credits enhance individual human health
- 15% of credits protect and restore water resources
- 10% of credits protect and enhance biodiversity and ecosystem services
- 5% of credits promote sustainable and regenerative material cycles
- 5% of credits enhance community quality of life
Credits earn you points, which then determines the level of LEED certification your building achieves. There are currently four levels of LEED certification:
- Certified (40-49 points)
- Silver (50-59 points)
- Gold (60-79 points)
- Platinum (80+ points)
Examples of LEED Certified Buildings
Millions of people around the world work and live in LEED-certified buildings. In the United States, hundreds of thousands of buildings have been certified, including:
- Empire State Building in New York City, New York
- Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois
- Boston Public Market in Boston, Massachusetts
- Facebook Headquarters in Menlo Park, California
- Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia
And north of the border, there are even more LEED-certified buildings, including these in in several major Canadian cities:
- TD Centre in Toronto, Ontario
- Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec
- Vancouver Convention Centre in Vancouver, British Columbia
- Deloitte Tower in Montreal, Quebec
- Sun Life Financial Centre in Ottawa, Ontario
To see a complete list of LEED-certified buildings from around the globe, visit the USGBC website.
How to Become LEED Certified
To become LEED certified, you'll have to complete these six steps:
- Determine the LEED certification level you wish your building to attain (Certified, Silver, Gold, or Platinum).
- Identify and select an appropriate LEED rating system. Different types of building require different rating systems.
- Register your project with the USGBC or its Canadian affiliate, the Canada Green Building Council (CAGBC).
- Pay certification and registration fees. Fees range from hundreds to thousands of dollars, depending on the size of the building and the level of certification desired.
- Accumulate credits toward certification by submitting requisite data.
- Obtain a review by the USGBC or CAGBC.
Does Trusscore Contribute to LEED Certification?
Trusscore Wall&CeilingBoard, SlatWall, NorLock, RibCore, and TempWall can help builders earn credits in the Materials and Resources and the Indoor Environmental Quality categories for LEED certification.
In the Materials and Resources category, Trusscore can contribute to two credits:
- Construction and Demolition Waste Management & Waste Management Planning. This credit aims to reduce the amount of construction and demolition waste disposed of in landfills and incineration facilities by recovering, reusing, and recycling materials. Trusscore products are 100% recyclable, meaning they can help reduce construction waste.
- Interiors Lifecycle Impact Reduction. This credit aims to encourage the reuse of existing building materials while reducing the amount of material being used. Trusscore products are durable, typically outlasting the buildings within which they’re installed. Trusscore products are also available in custom sizes to reduce material waste while off-cuts and excess material can be recycled. Trusscore panels can be removed and reused in other areas of a building.
In the Indoor Environmental Quality category, Trusscore can also contribute to two credits:
- Low Emitting Materials. This credit aims to reduce the concentrations of chemical contaminants that can damage air quality, human health, productivity, and the environment. All Trusscore products are low volatile organic compound (VOC) compliant and meet California’s standards for low emitting materials.
- Interior Lighting. This credit aims to promote building occupants’ productivity, comfort, and well-being by providing high-quality lighting. Trusscore panels have a light reflectivity rating of 90%, meaning they reflect 90% of the light that strikes a panel, contributing to bright spaces and reducing lighting requirements within those spaces.
To learn more about how Trusscore products can contribute to LEED certification, download the Trusscore for LEED v4.1 solution guide.