The Real Deal with LEED Certfication

by Michael Kiefer


With green building becoming a standard in residential development, consumers are finding it necessary to quickly familiarize themselves with the LEED rating and what it actually means for them in the long run.

LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council in 2000. The system essentially provides a rating of a home’s energy efficiency. LEED has the largest recognition among the energy and environmental design ratings programs, which also include Energy Star and EarthCraft.

It is important to note that green building is really about the process of integrated design, and that LEED is just one of many tools which helps define how one building compares to another.

When LEED-accredited professionals go about defining a project, there are essentially five measured criteria that must be considered:

  1. Site selection/development and incorporation of sustainability measures
  2. Water efficiency
  3. Energy efficiency/renewable energy use
  4. The reduction/reuse/recycling of building materials
  5. Enhanced IAQ (indoor air quality)

Points are awarded for each of the above criteria, and the sum of all the points determines the project’s LEED certification, either Certified (the lowest), Silver, Gold or Platinum (the highest). The ratings are based on the following scale:

  • 26-32 points — LEED Certified
  • 33-38 Points — LEED Silver
  • 39-51 Points — LEED Gold
  • 52-69 points — LEED Platinum

While LEED certification provides a good general score of a building’s efficiency, it does not necessarily indicate that the building is optimized to its fullest capacity. Innovation in green real estate development is constant, and new techniques are being introduced that are not yet incorporated as LEED criteria. For example, smart homes that allow iPhone and PDA users to monitor how their home is operating whether they are next door or 50 miles away are becoming increasingly popular.

LEED is really just a starting point for the future of green real estate as almost half of greenhouse emissions in the U.S. still come from buildings. Combine this with the fact that real estate development is a competitive industry where a LEED rating provides the perfect way for a developer to differentiate a building and attract consumers, and it is clear that this system will continue to be popular for years to come.

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Green DC Realty’s Michael Kiefer is the author of this piece. Please direct any questions to Mike at Michael@greenDCrealty.com.

See other articles related to: leed, green real estate dc, dclofts

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/the_real_deal_with_leed_certfication/1634


  1. aj said at 12:39 pm on Tuesday December 29, 2009:

    The LEED rating system you reference is now updated. Projects registered under LEED 2009 are evaluated on a 110 point scale. The rating system was reweighted to better reflect the importance of site selection and energy efficiency decisions relative to carbon as well as water issues.  It is also important to note that multi family and commercial office projects in the District will soon be required to achieve LEED certification and that projects in Arlington and Montgomery Counties are heavily incentivized to do so. And finally, I would agree that LEED is a good *starting point* to learn more about green building, but every building and every individual building occupant is different and each should have a unique approach to resource conservation and regeneration.

  1. Mike Kiefer said at 6:35 pm on Tuesday December 29, 2009:

    Thank you for the feed back, as you noted LEED is an ever evolving process constantly improving and adapting to our future needs in building smarter buildings.

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