What does it mean to be LEED certified?

In today’s world, sustainability and eco-friendliness are no longer just buzzwords; they are the cornerstone of the future. As the construction industry continues to grow, it is essential to ensure that we build structures that minimize their environmental impact. One way to achieve this is through LEED certification. But what does it mean to be LEED certified?

LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, a globally recognized certification system that acknowledges buildings that meet specific cost-effective, efficient, and sustainability criteria.

This green building rating system is divided into four levels: Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. The higher the level, the more sustainable the building is. Let’s explore why you should have your construction LEED certified and the requirements you need to meet.

Is getting LEED certified worth it for business owners?

LEED certification demonstrates a commitment to environmental responsibility, which can boost a business’s reputation and appeal to socially conscious consumers and investors. Additionally, many cities and states offer incentives, such as tax credits and rebates, for building owners who pursue LEED certification.

The tax credits and rebates should not be confused with handouts. Certified sustainable buildings have a small footprint and use up few municipal resources. So, the rebates and tax breaks are a fraction of local administrations’ savings from low-impact development.

On the other hand, LEED-certified buildings appeal to consumers since they have a healthy environment. Since people spend most of their time indoors (at the office or home), they insist on a healthy environment. Using natural light, non-toxic building materials, and quality airflow in a premise are some of the major building blocks of a healthy environment sought after by tenants.

LEED certification requirements

LEED certification requires buildings to meet specific sustainability requirements in several categories. The categories and requirements may vary depending on the specific rating system chosen, but some of the general requirements include the following:

  • Sustainable site development: This category focuses on the environmental impact of the building’s location and site. Requirements may include selecting a site in a walkable area, promoting alternative transportation methods, and preserving existing vegetation and natural habitats.
  • Water efficiency: Here, the focus is on reducing the amount of water the building uses. Points are awarded if you use low-flow fixtures and fittings, such as faucets, showerheads, toilets, and water-efficient landscaping and irrigation systems.
  • Energy and atmosphere: This category focuses on reducing the building’s energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. You earn points using energy-efficient lighting, HVAC systems, appliances, and renewable energy sources like solar or wind power.
  • Materials and resources: The focus is reducing waste and promoting sustainable materials. This can be done using recycled or locally sourced materials, implementing a construction waste management plan, and using sustainable and non-toxic materials.
  • Indoor environmental quality: This category focuses on improving the building’s indoor air quality, lighting, and acoustics. You can achieve this using non-toxic building materials, proper ventilation, and advanced air filtration systems.
  • Innovation and sustainable design process: This category focuses on innovative strategies beyond standard requirements. This may include using new technologies or methods to achieve sustainability goals, such as creating a net-zero energy building.

To obtain LEED certification, a building must meet all the requirements for the selected rating system and achieve a certain number of points. The number of points required varies depending on the rating system and the desired certification level, which can be:

LEED certification process

The LEED certification process involves several steps, including:

  • Registration: The first step is registering the project with the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and selecting the appropriate rating system. This involves paying a registration fee and providing basic information about the project, such as its location, size and intended use.
  • Documentation: Once registered, the project team must submit documentation and evidence that the building meets the requirements for the selected rating system. This may include drawings, specifications, and performance data.
  • Review: The USGBC reviews the documentation and awards points based on the building’s compliance with the rating system requirements. The USGBC may request additional information or clarification during the review process.
  • Certification: If the building earns enough points to meet the minimum requirements for the desired certification level, the USGBC will issue a LEED certification.
  • Maintenance: To maintain the certification, the building must continue to meet the requirements for the selected rating system and submit documentation to the USGBC for ongoing review. The building must also be recertified every few years to meet sustainability requirements.

The LEED certification process can take several months to a year or more, depending on the complexity of the project and the rating system selected. It requires a coordinated effort among the project team to ensure that the building meets the sustainability requirements and earns enough points to achieve certification.


Any building project, including new construction, renovation, and interior design, can apply for LEED certification.

The LEED certification cost depends on several factors, including the project size, type, and location. The USGBC charges a registration fee and a certification fee, ranging from $10,000 to $30,000.

The time to obtain LEED certification varies depending on the project’s complexity and size. However, most projects take six months to one year to complete the certification process.


LEED certification is an excellent way to ensure your building is environmentally sustainable and eco-friendly. It provides a framework for green building design, construction, and operation, offering numerous benefits to building owners and occupants.

Obtaining LEED certification may require significant time and resources, but the long-term benefits are well worth it. So, if you want to construct an environmentally conscious building, consider obtaining LEED certification and positively impacting the environment. Contact District Green Plants to assist you in knocking the items off your checklist for your LEED-Certified Building. 

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