An organization called the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) is responsible for overseeing the LEED rating system, and this institution has very different criteria depending on the type of construction taking place. For example, LEED credits for new construction projects may vary greatly compared to those for the renovation projects of existing structures. Retail outlets will have different LEED credit opportunities compared to those associated with Healthcare facilities or schools.
When the project team achieves the completion of a particular LEED credit, a number of “points” are assigned. A minimum of 40 points overall must be achieved before the project is deemed “LEED Certified.” However, with the more points acquired, the higher the possible LEED rating.
LEED Certification Levels
- LEED Certification: 40 – 49 Points
- Silver Certification: 50 – 59 Points
- Gold Certification: 60 – 79 Points
- Platinum Certification: 80- 110 Points
As confusing as all of this may sound, detailed information
regarding LEED certification and credits is always readily available at USGBC.org. The website even provides a downloadable template which is useful in facilitating the documentation process of completed LEED credits. This documentation can also be helpful for taking advantage of certain available tax grants and incentives offered at the federal, state, and local levels.
Sustainable Projects and LEED credits: A Brief Overview
Choosing the optimal site location for a sustainable building project is crucial, particularly regarding Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) credits and certifications. The final location must not only meet the specific design criteria for the final structure, but it must also allow for building construction processes that reduce or eliminate potential harm to the surrounding environment. Currently, there are numerous available LEED credits for sustainable projects in the United States, which fall into the below categories.
- Prevention of possible construction pollution
- Reduction or elimination of environmental contamination
- Protection or restoration of the surrounding natural habitat
- Protection of neighboring vegetation, hydrology, soil, climate, and other environmental features.
- Optimization of open space environments
- Improved water quality and rainwater management
- Reduction of heat islands regarding microclimates of wildlife
- Light pollution prevention strategies and increases in night sky access capabilities
- Inclusion of outdoor places of respite for building staff and/or patients
- Direct access capabilities to natural environments for building staff and/or patients
In general, sustainable building owners along with their architects and engineers should consider two primary areas of concern when selecting the best possible site location. First and foremost, the reduction or prevention of any possible damage to the surrounding environment is crucial. Secondly, the final building structure should further complement the nearby habitat, including all waterways, aquatic life, vegetation, soil, and wildlife creatures. Even the exit and entrance strategies onto the property before, during, and after construction are of vital importance.