LEED is the acronym for “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.” It is best known for its rating system put together by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) to determine how “green” the design, construction and operation of allegedly green buildings are. The Council intends it to encourage and accelerate global adoption of sustainable green building and development practices through the creation and implementation of universally understood and accepted tools and performance criteria. It is also intended to give building owners and operators the tools they need to have an immediate and measurable impact on their buildings’ “green” performance. LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.
According to the USGBC web site [http://www.usgbc.org/displaypage.aspx?CMsPageID=222] “architects, real estate professionals, facility managers, engineers, interior designers, landscape architects, construction managers, lenders and government officials all use LEED to help transform the built environment to sustainability. State and local governments across the country are adopting LEED for public-owned and public-funded buildings; there are LEED initiatives in federal agencies, including the Departments of Defense, Agriculture, Energy, and State; and LEED projects are in progress in 41 different countries, including Canada, Brazil, Mexico and India.”
LEED Rating Systems are said to be developed through an open, consensus-based process led by LEED committees composed of a diverse group of volunteer practitioners and experts representing a cross-section of the building and construction industry. Among others there are now LEED rating systems for new construction, existing buildings, commercial interiors, schools, retail and healthcare structures, homes and neighborhood development. To earn LEED certification, a project must satisfy all prerequisites and earn a minimum number of points outlined in the LEED Rating System under which it is registered.