LEED Certification Levels and Which One to Apply For
LEED certification is the most widely accepted and revered green building certification; however, its many different categories and ranking systems may feel overwhelming at first for those who are new to the process. If you are interested in pursuing the world of green building, whether for property development or your own personal home construction, then LEED certification should be on the forefront of your mind.
What a LEED Certification Means
LEED certification means that your home achieves an exemplary level of eco-friendliness that leads to better environmental outcomes, lowered utility bills, and increased health and comfort for occupants. Specifically, LEED aims to positively change the following “impact categories” for the world: climate change, human health, water resources, biodiversity, material resources, green economy, and the community. There are four different LEED certification levels available (i.e. Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Certified) that are awarded to homes based on their achievement in green building. Below, take a closer look at the four LEED certification levels to learn the steps required to achieve each award level.
The Four LEED Certification Levels
LEED certification is an impressive feat regardless of which level is achieved. However, homes that achieve Platinum and Gold levels of LEED certification are viewed as the pinnacle of green building. These levels of LEED certification require innovative design strategy and a true passion for the environment.
LEED Platinum is the highest level of certification in the LEED program. In order to achieve this impressive score, a home must receive 80 or more points on the LEED scorecard. These scoring components evaluate the home’s performance in relation to energy use, indoor environmental quality, integrative processes, location and transportation, materials and resources, sustainable site selection, and water efficiency.
Like the Platinum certification discussed above, LEED Gold homes also achieve a stringent level of eco-friendliness. LEED Gold homes score between 60 and 79 points total in the different scoring categories. Studies have found that both LEED Gold and LEED Platinum homes outperform the Silver and Certified homes in operation, and they have a more substantial positive impact on the environment. Want to see what LEED Gold and Platinum homes look like? Take a look at these LiteHomes.
LEED Silver homes receive 50 to 59 points across the LEED scoring categories. Though it is a lower certification level than Platinum and Gold, a LEED Silver home will still take steps to create a healthy environment compared to what is required by standard building code.
A Certified LEED home achieves the base amount of components for certification. A home at this level will have received 40 to 49 points in the scoring process. For many commercial buildings that have large square footage, heavy operational costs, and copious amounts of foot traffic, a LEED Certified rating is the most realistic option to pursue.
Getting Certified for LEED
There are many different routes that can be taken to achieve the levels of LEED certification, and the optimal route varies depending on the scope and purpose of the building in question. For example, there are specific certification routes for Building Design and Construction, for Interior Design and Construction, for Building Operations and Maintenance, for Neighborhood Development, for Homes, and for Cities and Communities. There is also a pathway for LEED Recertification and for LEED Zero, which is a level of energy efficiency that means a home only uses the energy that it generates itself. Each of these pathways has a different set of scoring items that are relevant to the type of property. However, they all focus on the overall mission of LEED.
How to Earn the Points and Credits for LEED Certification
As mentioned above, LEED aims to positively change the following “impact categories” in the world: climate change, human health, water resources, biodiversity, material resources, green economy, and the community. Points are awarded to each green building element of a property according to how it impacts these wider goals of LEED. However, elements aimed at certain goals are awarded more weight in the scoring process than others. For example, green building elements that impact climate change are given a higher weighted score than elements that impact water resources. These weights were established by a team of professionals from the US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) and a committee of LEED authorities.
The LEED certifiers who evaluate the home will award points on the scorecard based on the specific certification route that has been selected, and some items are worth more than others depending on the overall impact of that scoring item. The total scores are what determines the LEED certification levels.
Get Certified for LEED Now
LEED properties, especially those that are awarded Gold and Platinum scores, are revered for their energy efficiency; access to public transportation; reduced water waste; clean indoor air quality; inclusion of healthy, regenerable, or recyclable materials; and efforts to keep the construction site sustainable throughout the building process. These benefits create a positive impact for climate change, human health, water resources, biodiversity, material resources, green economy, and community development.
How big of an impact do LEED Certified homes make on these goals? A 2014 study from UC Berkeley found that LEED homes contributed to 50% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than conventionally constructed buildings due to water consumption improvements, 48% fewer greenhouse gas emissions due to solid waste reduction, and 5% fewer greenhouse gas emissions due to transportation advances. Overall, these changes have led to 34% fewer CO2 emissions, 25% less energy consumption, and 11% less water consumption. According to USGBC, LEED has also led to the equivalent of 80 million tons of waste diverted from landfills. Furthermore, LEED homes have cleaner and better health outcomes for occupants, meaning a safer home for residents and loved ones.
redT Homes is Committed to LEED Gold or Higher Certification
These outcomes are impressive and make a difference. This is why redT has made the commitment to achieve LEED Gold or higher certification for all new construction properties regardless of their size or scope. Are you interested in pursuing green building for your home or your next professional project? Learn more about LEED certification with us!