What does LEED mean?

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The acronym LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and it’s the symbol of green building that meets set standards. There are different levels of LEED certification: certified, silver, gold and platinum. The “medal” levels are builds that meet requirements above and beyond those of basic certification. Every LEED certified home is considered green and high performance; the higher the level of certification, the greater the performance level. Certification levels correspond to the number of credits your construction gets in these five green design categories: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources and indoor environmental quality. All certification is done by a third party, not your builder.

The LEED green building rating system was developed by the US Green Building Council, a nonprofit Washington DC coalition of building industry leaders. The goals are to promote design and construction practices that reduce the environmental impact of the building while improving people’s health—green homes are healthier homes with less less indoor pollution.

There are different LEED criteria for buildings and for homes. For a home to be LEED certified, it must meet all LEED prerequisites and earn a minimum 45 points on a 136-point LEED rating system scale. Having a home certified is a decision you make at the start of a project because you’ll work with a LEED rater to get input from day one through completion. This way, you know you’re staying on track.

LEED acts as your design and construction roadmap, with criteria to follow as you make choices all along the way. Doing a LEED construction, whether for a house, an addition or a remodel, is a learning experience. You’ll find out about the materials, equipment and processes that make a house more efficient and more environmentally friendly.

Here are the benefits of a LEED-certified build:

  • Lower home operating costs and increased home value
  • Less environmental “footprint” because there’s less construction waste
  • Energy and water conservation
  • Better health for everyone living in the home
  • Less impact on global warming because there are fewer greenhouse gases emitted
  • Possible tax savings, rebates and other financial incentives

Intrigued? There are many organizations that can help you set green home goals and give you design ideas. Here are two to check out:



Photo Credit: Ken Pagliaro; Project: 448 Green Home; Learn more about this project.