How To Get U.S. Green Building Council LEED Certification Points

LEED points are awarded for specific actions taken to ensure that a building's construction and ongoing operations promote energy conservation, waste management and other measures that reduce the overall environmental impact in the structure's operations and use. The four levels of LEED are listed below.

LEED Certification Tiers

  • Certified 40 to 49 pts.
  • Silver 50 to 59 pts.
  • Gold 60 to 79 pts.
  • Platinum 80 to 110 pts.

Currently, the U.S. Green Building Council uses a number of different building categories. Some examples are commercial interiors, new construction and homes. The table below shows the point structure for LEED towards existing buildings. The council makes periodic changes to the point system. Check the USGBC website often for updates and changes.

LEED for Existing Buildings

Sustainable Sites 26
Water Efficiency 14
Energy&Atmosphere 35
Materials & Resources 10
Indoor Environment Quality 15
Innovation in Operations 6
Regional Priority 4
Total + Bonuses110
Attaining LEED points and reaching one of the four levels of certification isn't just slapping up some solar panels or recycling bottles and cans. There is a specific and lengthy documentation and inspection process that includes designated systems and protocols. Each LEED initiative should be carefully planned out before implementation. A good rule of thumb for LEED inclusion is any project that currently receives State or Federal rebates, incentives or tax credits.

Step 1

Sustainable Sites – Buildings that reduce or eliminate their environmental impact through site landscape initiatives that serve both economics and the needs of people.

  • Proximity to public transportation to reduce automobile use
  • The use of on-site alternative fuel vehicles
  • Maximize the natural cooling effect of trees&greenery through non-displacement
  • Eliminating or reducing prior site contamination
  • Conservation of existing natural water, air and land environments

Step 2

Water&Efficiency – Active reduction of wastewater or lowered water demand or both.

  • Use of water saving fixtures in bathrooms, kitchens, manufacturing & maintenance
  • Onsite treatment and recycling of wastewater
  • Reduce or eliminate water use for landscape irrigation
  • Capture and re-use of rainwater

Step 3

Energy&Atmosphere – Use of renewable energy sources and optimization of existing energy consumption.

  • Use of on-site solar electric and building integrated photovoltaics
  • Use of alternative on-site renewables, including geothermal, biomass, biofuel and wind
  • Purchasing of SREC's to reduce carbon footprint
  • Optimization and use of HVAC
  • Use of glazing systems to increase or decrease daylighting to supplement heating and cooling systems

Step 4

Materials&Resources – The use of construction waste management and recycling for building, maintaining and expanding existing structures.

  • Use of woods from sustainable resources
  • Procurement of materials from local suppliers
  • Active system for the collection of recyclables
  • Re-use of existing interior walls and floors and exterior roofs during demolition and construction

Step 5

Indoor Environment Quality – Active systems and initiatives to promote a comfortable, safe and healthy working environment. The newest initiative is to allow individuals to regulate their own work space for climate control and incoming daylight.

  • Use of sound deadening materials to isolate equipment causing noise pollution
  • Eliminate or reduce airborne bacteria, mold and other contaminants within HVAC systems
  • Avoid or eliminate the use of high VOC compounds for building operations and maintenance
  • Use careful consideration in designing aesthetic views of outdoor environments

In addition to the maximum LEED Platinum designation of 100 points, there are currently 10 additional achievable bonus points that top out at 110 points. There are 6 points available for Innovation in Operations and 4 additional bonus points available for Regional Priority.


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