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What Is LEED Certification?

What Is LEED Certification?

Colorado Springs, CO, December 9, 2022

What is LEED?

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a rating system developed by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). Green design and innovation are growing fields worldwide. The LEED certification is used all around the globe to recognize sustainability in building designs. LEED “delivers a comprehensive framework for green building design, construction, operations and performance.”

A Short History of LEED

LEED began in 1993, formed by David Gottfried, Mike Italiano and Rick Fedrizzi, who served as president, CEO and founding chair of USGBC. The first version of the LEED system released in 1998, test piloting 19 projects. The success of these projects brought about new criterion specifically for New Construction in 2000. LEED was revised in 2001 and again in 2003, alongside adding criteria for Existing Buildings, Commercial Interiors, and Core and Shell. In 2004, LEED had 100 certified projects under its belt. After a revision in 2009, LEED certified its 5,000th project in 2010. Additional revisions occurred in 2015 and 2019, bringing it to its current version, v4.1, which is used worldwide. Today, there are more than 100,000 buildings participating in LEED.

What Can Be LEED Certified?

Just about any project you can imagine can be LEED certified. From residential to commercial, neighborhoods to whole cities, building and interior design to operations and management, possibilities exist for LEED certification. For ambitious building or operations projects, LEED Zero is a special certification acknowledging net zero accomplishments in carbon and/or resources.

The LEED Scoring System

Projects are verified and scored based on prerequisites and credits that meet LEED system goals and standards. The cumulative score falls into one of four tiers: Certified (40-49 points), Silver (50-59 points), Gold (60-79 points), and Platinum (80+ points). Credits are categorized by how they address carbon, energy, water, waste, transportation, materials, health, and indoor environmental quality. These credits are aimed at:

  • Reducing contribution to global climate change—35% of credits
  • Enhancing individual human health—20% of credits
  • Protecting and restoring water resources—15% of credits
  • Promoting sustainable and regenerative material cycles (including impact on natural resources)—15% of credits
  • Protecting and enhancing biodiversity and ecosystem services—10% of credits
  • Enhancing community quality of life—5% of credits

Read more about LEED at

LEED also offers professional credentials:

Do you have a project or existing design you would like LEED certified? Visit

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