A LEED Primer

August 20, 2007
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The U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System has become the consensus standard for environmentally friendly construction. Certified projects meet baseline requirements for energy efficiency and environmental concerns targeted well above regulatory standards, along with optional attributes graded on a point-scale.

The seven-year-old certification system today has 926 projects certified under its various programs, with another 7,934 registered and pending certification.

A LEED Accredited Professional has demonstrated mastery of one of the three major LEED programs. Although primarily an architecture and engineering standard, local professionals from a diverse cross-section of industries carry the LEED-AP designation. For the most part, these individuals have some connection to the built environment — facilities managers, construction managers, contractors, and the designers and marketers of products and services for buildings, from office furniture to waste management.

“It’s most common for those who work on LEED projects, but you often see a lot of others become accredited professionals so they can speak that language,” said Theresa Hogerheide-Reusch, principal of Reusch Design Services, one of a handful of local firms that review LEED certification applications on behalf of the U.S. Green Building Council. “These are product manufacturers and service companies that want to talk to and sell to building professionals. They have an understanding of the LEED system in order to fit their products into it.”

There are no specific requirements for taking the LEED-AP exam, not even membership in the U.S. Green Building Council. Any professional, regardless of occupation, can earn the accreditation.

There are six LEED certifications available at the present time:

  • LEED for New Construction and Major Renovations (LEED-NC): The original program introduced in March 2000 also includes two subsets — LEED for Multiple Buildings/Campuses and LEED for Schools — plus another three subsets currently in development: LEED for Health Care, Retail and Laboratories.

  • LEED for High Performance Operations: Originally called LEED for Existing Buildings, this model is to be used when more than 50 percent of a building’s occupants are present during renovation.

  • LEED for Commercial Interiors: The interior design model includes a LEED for Retail subset in development.

  • LEED for Core & Shell: Used when the owner does not control the interior design or occupancy of the building. It is specific to the structure, thermal envelope, mechanical systems and other building-level attributes. There is no LEED-AP test for this model.

  • LEED for Homes: Pilot programs are under way for the residential housing model. There is no LEED-AP test for this model.

  • LEED for Neighborhood Development: The newest model integrates principles of smart growth, new urbanism and green building in housing projects. There is no LEED-AP test for this model.

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