The Basics of LEED Rating Systems for Commercial and Institutional Buildings

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Posted: Wednesday, April 13, 2011 8:30 am | Updated: 2:24 pm, Fri Apr 8, 2011.

Green Building Design and Construction

• LEED for New Construction & Major Renovations is a rating system that can be applied to commercial, institutional and residential buildings of four or more stories, with a focus on office buildings. The rating system has also been applied to manufacturing plants, hotels, laboratories and many other building types. Launched in 2000. Projects to date: Certified: 4,321; Registered: 16,711.

• LEED for Core & Shell is a rating system that can be applied to speculative developments and core and shell buildings. Pre-certification is a unique aspect allowing for marketing to potential tenants and financiers. Launched in 2006. Projects to date: Certified: 715; Registered: 3,018.

• LEED for Schools recognizes the unique nature of the design and construction of K-12 schools, and, in addition to the environmental and health goals targeted by all LEED rating systems, LEED for Schools also addresses issues such as classroom acoustics, master planning, mold prevention and environmental site assessment. Launched in 2007. Projects to date: Certified: 110; Registered: 1,298.

• LEED for Retail: New Construction is designed to provide certification paths for ground-up retail construction. Pilot program began in April 2007. Launched November 2010. Projects to date: Certified: 107, Registered: 142.

• LEED for Healthcare is designed to guide and distinguish high-performance healthcare projects, including inpatient and outpatient care facilities and licensed long term care facilities. It may also be used for medical offices, assisted living facilities and medical education and research centers. Began in 2007, launching this spring. Certified: 213; Registered: 1,300.

Green Interior Design and Construction

• LEED for Commercial Interiors addresses the specifics of tenant spaces primarily in office and institutional buildings and designed for tenants who lease or do not occupy the entire building and want to certify their space as a LEED green interior. Launched in 2004. Projects to date: Certified: 1670; Registered: 3,164.

• LEED for Retail: Commercial Interiors is designed to provide certification paths for retail commercial interiors. Pilot program began in April 2007. Launched November 2010. Projects to date: Certified: 184, Registered: 76.

Green Building Operations and Maintenance

• LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance is a tool for the ongoing operations and maintenance of existing buildings. Launched in 2004; new version launched in 2008. Projects to date: Certified: 1,013; Registered: 5,234.

Residential and Neighborhood Rating Systems and Programs

• LEED for Homes is a green home certification system for assuring homes are designed and built to be energy- and resource-efficient and healthy for occupants. Can be applied to single- and multifamily homes and is intended for both market-rate and affordable housing. Launched in February 2008. Numbers to date: Certified: 10,161; registered: 48,391. Visit

• REGREEN: Green Residential Remodeling Guidelines is the nation's first set of resources and tools for green home remodeling projects; unlike LEED, REGREEN is not a rating system or certification program; it provides guidance for the major elements of any green residential renovation project. The American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) and the USGBC are partners on this. Visit

• LEED for Neighborhood Development is a rating system that integrates the principles of smart growth, new urbanism, and green building into the first national benchmark for neighborhood design. Developed by USGBC in partnership with the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Launched in April 2010. Projects to date: Certified Stage 3: 8; Certified Stage 2: 60; Certified Stage 1: 27.

Certification Programs

• LEED Volume Program is for organizations planning to certify a large number of new-construction projects or existing buildings. It works by establishing verifiable guidelines that, without compromising LEED's rigorous benchmarks standards, streamline the certification process. This program dramatically increases the efficiency of LEED certification and lowers the associated costs. Launched November 2010. Visit

Source: U.S. Green Building Council

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