LEED Tutorial | Green Builders | PBS
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LEED – or Get Out Of The Way: A Tutorial On The LEED Program.
What is LEED?

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program is the USGBC’s primary vehicle for promoting sustainable design and construction.

Photo of Anthony Sblendorio
LEED origin and evolution
Sandy Wiggins, Scott Chrisner, and Anthony Sblendorio discuss how LEED evolved to become the common language and roadmap for measuring green within the building industry.
Photo of Sandy Wiggins
The basic categories behind LEED
Using five key performance categories, the LEED rating system takes a holistic approach to measuring the environmental responsiveness of a building.
Photo of Sandy Wiggins
LEED levels
The different levels of certification – Certified, Silver, Gold, Platinum – has resulted in an unintended but powerful stimulus for change as builders strive for higher awards.

OK… so what is the USGBC?

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is a non-profit organization committed to expanding sustainable building practices. It is composed of more than 13,500 organizations from across the building industry, including: building owners and end-users, real estate developers, facility managers, architects, designers, engineers, general contractors, subcontractors, product and building system manufacturers, government agencies, and nonprofits.

What is the USGBC trying to do?

The USGBC mission is to transform the way buildings and communities are designed, built and operated, enabling an environmentally and socially responsible, healthy, and prosperous environment that improves the quality of life.

How can I find out if there is a USGBC local chapter in my area?

Visit the USGBC site.

So…again…what is LEED?

LEED is basically a system for rating the environmental performance of a building. It is based on accepted energy and environmental principles and strikes a balance between known established practices and emerging concepts.

The rating system evaluates environmental performance from a whole building perspective over a building’s life cycle, providing a definitive standard for what constitutes a “green building.”

Can any building get a LEED rating?

LEED rating systems are currently available for the following building categories:

New Construction (primarily commercial and institutional buildings)
Existing Buildings
Commercial Interiors
Core & Shell
Homes and

The rating systems cover the full spectrum of building activities from design through construction to operation.

How does a building get a rating?

Buildings must achieve a certain number of points in five key performance categories:

Sustainable Sites
Water Efficiency
Energy & Atmosphere
Materials & Resources
Indoor Environmental Quality

A small number of points are also available for “Innovation & Design Process” – a category designed to encourage the development of new ways to “go green.”

What’s the best rating a building can get?

Platinum. The USGBC provides successive levels of recognition, depending on the number of points achieved from Certified (the most basic level) through Silver and Gold and then to Platinum.

What are examples of a LEED Platinum building?

The Willow School (featured in Green Builders) and the BASF Demonstration House (see slideshow) are two examples of LEED Platinum projects in New Jersey.

Where can I find out more?

Go to the source: the U.S. Green Building Council.

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Published April 2009.
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