Measuring Energy Efficiency in Buildings

LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is an internationally-recognized green building certification and rating system. Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) in the late 1990s, LEED provides building owners and operators with a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions. The Green Building Certification Institute administers LEED certification for all commercial and institutional projects registered under the LEED Rating System.

This system is one of the first rating systems designed to promote and measure sustainable and energy-efficient buildings. LEED promotes sustainable building and development practices through a rating system that recognizes strategies for better environmental and health performance. The LEED rating system is developed through an open, consensus-based process led by committees that are composed of diverse groups of professional volunteers representing a cross-section of the building and construction industry.

LEED points are awarded on a 100-point scale, and credits are weighted to reflect their potential environmental impacts. Additionally, 10 bonus credits are available, four of which address regionally specific environmental issues. LEED "Platinum" is the highest award level, followed by "Gold", "Silver" and "Certified".

A project must satisfy all prerequisites and earn a minimum number of points to be certified. The LEED rating system can apply to all building types, including commercial as well as residential. It works throughout the entire building lifecycle, from design and construction, operations and maintenance, tenant customization, and renovation. LEED also makes good business sense, benefiting commercial building owners as well as tenants by reducing operational and maintenance costs.

The LEEDS program issues a building score by measuring performance in the following key areas:

How can we use LEED?

Besides the savings in energy that can be achieved, LEED buildings can help to discourage suburban sprawl by building in appropriate areas, reduce the burden on stormwater systems and promote development at sustainable densities. A building's LEED status is commonly promoted to tenants as a type of status symbol. Local design professionals also gain important certification as specialists in LEED design methodology. Some municipalities offer density bonuses for buildings that are designed with the goals of achieving LEED certification.

:Learn more about LEED.