The LEED Rating System and the U.S. Green Building Council

By Matty Byloos

What Is the LEED® Rating System?

LEED stands for the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. This distinction is a property of the U.S. Green Building Council, a non-profit organization that is devoted at its foundational level to increasing the use of sustainable and green building practices across the fifty states.

The USGBC has in its ranks 12,000 plus organizations that span the breadth of the country and all facets of the building and construction industries. These member organizations work collectively in order to implement and advance building structures that are at once environmentally safe and sound, as well as profitable for the business person involved. Further, their structures are set up to be healthy dwellings in which to live, and healthy buildings in which to work. Membership is varied in its ranks, and includes developers, architects, general contractors, agencies of the government and other nonprofit organizations.

What Does LEED® Mean and Who Gets Rated?

LEED's "Green Building Rating System™" attempts to certify and push the advancement of a planet-wide implementation of green building and development practices. Their goal is to accomplish this through the creation of a universal set of tools and performance standards.

LEED has certification and performance standards for divisions of building such as "New Construction," which is designed to foster the growth of and distinguish commercial projects and new institutions conforming to green building practices at the highest levels; for "Existing Buildings," LEED has instituted guidelines for maintenance and ongoing operation, which gives building owners and operators a standard of environmental excellence to reach for; there is even a set of standards for "Schools," which serves to put special guidelines in place for the potentially unique nature of the concerns facing school spaces. In addition to these three divisions, there are also standards for "Commercial Interiors," "Core and Shell," "Retail," "Healthcare," "Homes" and "Neighborhood Development."

LEED Proposed Core Mission

LEED, a voluntary proposal at this time, is essentially a nationally-recognized rating system, agreed on by consensus, that seeks to develop sustainable buildings that perform at the highest levels. LEED is a set of standards that can be applied individually to all unique building types, as noted above. LEED places great emphasis on "state-of-the-art strategies" for green and sustainable development of building sites. This includes but is not limited to the following: efficient energy use, water use, selection of green materials and careful choosing of resources, and the quality levels of indoor environments.

LEED serves builders, owners and designers alike -- a rating tool that is practical and user-friendly in nature, a manner by which green building design and construction might be implemented and held to the highest of standards. Best of all, the results are immediate and universal when the LEED ratings standards are used.

About the Author

Matty Byloos writes and manages the Green Blog known as: Green Eggs and Planet, LEED, USGBC

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