27 Nov What is a LEED Certified Building?
LEED certification is a popular topic among the construction industry today, but what is a LEED certified building?
LEED is an acronym which stands for “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.”
It is effectively a metric system that is used to determine how energy efficient a structure is, and it is a common rating system recognized around the world.
LEED Certification Levels
The first step towards understanding what is a LEED certified building is learning one key difference between other types of certifications. While many other types are binary, LEED operates off of a tiered point system. Depending on the level of efficiency the building demonstrates there are multiple levels of certification that can be earned. These rankings are as follows for a LEED Certified Building.
As the above graphic shows, the LEED certification levels are:
- Certified: 40 – 49 points earned
- Silver: 50 – 59 points earned
- Gold: 60 – 79 points earned
- Platinum: More than 80 points earned
LEED Certification Requirements
Now that you know the different levels of LEED certifications, the next step is to understand how points are awarded. Essentially, there are two different metrics used to determine the certification status: prerequisites and credits.
Prerequisites are requirements that are not optional and have to be in place in order to achieve the certification.
In order to get the points that will determine which level is necessary, you will need to obtain a certain number of credits. These optional credits are awarded for many different things, and the exact details of each depend on the type of project and certification in question. We will cover this in more detail below.
Why Does LEED Certification Matter?
LEED Certification is mainly used by federal and state organizations throughout the U.S.
Obtaining LEED certification opens up a wide breadth of helpful opportunities to building owners such as tax credits or grants.
In some municipalities green certification on new constructions is mandatory and certain minimum standards may be required to be met. Having a highly scoring LEED rating may contribute towards or even completely fulfill these requirements.
What is the Benefit of a LEED Certified Building?
Since becoming certified seems like a relatively challenging project that isn’t required for every building project, a common question is “what is the benefit of a LEED certified building?”
Even in the case that LEED certification is not mandatory in your area, there are a number of other advantages that come about from obtaining LEED certification. In general, a LEED certified building is cheaper to maintain thanks to the minimized water, gas, and energy usage. Demonstrating progressive green building practices also can help promote your building, providing a great talking point that helps with public relations.
How To Get A Building LEED Certified
In order to have a building undergo LEED evaluation, one must first register the building with the United States Green Building Council. The USGBC created LEED certification and are the ones who conduct evaluations. In order to register there is a fee which must first be paid and preliminary requirements which must be met. After registration there is a secondary certification fee which is determined based on the size of your project and its LEED certification ranking. More complex building projects with a denser volume of paperwork will net a larger certification fee.
In order to prepare for LEED evaluation the handy online certification guides found on the USGBC’s website will guide you through the requirements and considerations which will factor into your building’s LEED evaluation. While LEED certification is available for just about every type of building project, the requirements and score weights will vary depending on the type of project. Because of this it is important that you select and review the certification guide most fitting to the type of project you wish to have reviewed.
LEED Certification Checklist
The exact requirements on a LEED certification checklist depend on the type of rating system the project falls under. The different rating systems are divided into several separate categories, including:
- LEED for Building Design and Construction
- LEED for Interior Design and Construction
- LEED for Building Operations and Maintenance
- LEED for Neighborhood Development
- LEED for Cities and Communities
The USGBC keeps the updated LEED certification requirements for each of these different project types.
How Can You Tell If A Contractor’s Work Is LEED Certified?
Communication and oversight are key here. If you are interested in attaining LEED Certification when embarking on a new project, make this clear to the contractors you are working with as soon as possible. When selecting a contractor, check their previous work to see if they have any prior experience working on LEED certified projects. If the contractor has completed multiple high-ranking LEED certified buildings in the past, it is likely they are intimately familiar with the requirements already.
In order to achieve the highest possible point values, many factors must be taken into consideration at the planning phase of the project such as the location of a building and materials used in construction. These factors can be difficult or even impossible to change in the middle of a construction project, but the extra points gained from them just might make a difference in determining your final certification level.
Once you have made your goals clear and have started on the project, you can use the LEED Certification rubric in order to ensure that the contractors you are working with are meeting your goals. A good contractor will be honest, transparent, and work with you to properly communicate the steps they are taking in order to ensure the project is meeting LEED scoring points.
Get Expert Help with a LEED Certification
There are a vast number of challenges on any major building project, so adding an additional certification can seem daunting – especially if it isn’t absolutely necessary. If you came here today wondering “what is a LEED certified building,” then you may be feeling overwhelmed as to how to proceed.
Fortunately, you don’t have to go through this process alone. Experienced contractors like Gracon have taken on many projects involving LEED certification, and we would be able to help you achieve this goal in yours. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you would like to learn the possibilities related to a LEED certification in your situation.