LEED was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) in March 2000 and is an internationally-recognized green building certification system.

What does LEED do?

According to USGBC, “LEED provides building owners and operators with a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions.

LEED promotes sustainable building and development practices through a suite of rating systems that recognize projects that implement strategies for better environmental and health performance. The LEED rating systems are developed through an open, consensus-based process led by LEED committees, diverse groups of volunteers representing a cross-section of the building and construction industry. Key elements of the process include a balanced and transparent committee structure, technical advisory groups that ensure scientific consistency and rigor, opportunities for stakeholder comment and review, member ballot of new rating systems, and fair and open appeals.”

What buildings does LEED work with?

LEED can be applied to either commercial or residential building types and may even be used as a framework for urban planning and design through the LEED for Neighborhood Development rating system.

What LEED rating systems are there?

LEED’s rating systems include:

– LEED for New Construction (NC)
– LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance (EB: O&M)
– LEED for Commercial Interiors (CI)
– LEED for Core & Shell (CS)
– LEED for Schools (SCH)
– LEED for Retail
– LEED for Healthcare (HC)
– LEED for Homes
– LEED for Neighborhood Development (ND)

Each rating system uses a different, specific approach tailored to the type of building it focuses on to measure the sustainability of a project or existing building.

For more information on the LEED green building rating systems, visitUSGBC.org.

LEED Professional Credentials

In addition to the range of certification systems for green buildings, LEED also offers a highly regarded credentialing system for green building professionals. LEED professional credentials are administered by the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI).

LEED Green Associate

The LEED Green Associate is the entry level LEED credential for professionals interested in learning about the fundamentals of green building and the LEED rating systems.

Earning the LEED Green Associate, often referred to as LEED GA, requires passing a computerized multiple choice exam. There are certain eligibility requirements for taking the LEED GA exam, and options for becoming eligible, which we have written about here.

It is a requirement to pass the LEED Green Associate exam before advancing to the LEED Accredited Professional (LEED AP) credential.


The LEED AP credential is an advanced LEED credential which specifically focuses professionals on learning the ins and outs of one of the particular LEED rating systems listed above.

The LEED AP exam is a much more rigorous exam. The exam requires a lot of memorization and knowledge of specific detailed aspects of a LEED rating system. Indeed, some people have compared it to passing the bar exam.

Approaches to studying for the LEED GA and LEED AP exams differ. For people with experience working on a LEED project, it is possible to take both exams on the same day. However, it is recommended that people take the exams separately to maximize their chances for success. We have covered tips on passing the LEED AP exam here.

LEED Fellow

The LEED Fellow is the most prestigious professional designation. According to GBCI, the designation was developed to honor and recognize distinguished LEED APs who have made a significant contribution to the field of green building and sustainability at a regional, national, or international level. To earn this designation a person must be nominated by their peers. Once a person is nominated, they will be evaluated along for or five “mastery levels” including:

– Technical Proficiency
– Education and Mentoring
– Leadership
– Commitment and Service
– Advocacy

Certified Green homes sell for more

Portland-area homes with green credentials command prices an average 30 percent higher than their non-certified counterparts, even while the overall market share of certified green homes in the region took a slight dip, according to new data.

Earth Advantage Institute, a nonprofit green building organization, announced Wednesday the results of its annual certified home analysis for the Portland metro region for the year May 1, 2010 through April 30, 2011 based on Portland Regional Multiple Listing Service data.

The report found that better sales prices were nabbed by both new homes and existing homes with certification of sustainability measures such as energy efficiency and green building materials. The certifications included in the report were either from Earth Advantage, the federal governments Energy Star program and LEED home designations from the U.S. Green Building Council.

In Multnomah County, existing homes with green certification received a whopping premium of 61 percent over the average price of non-certified homes. In Clackamas County, green-certified new homes fetched an average price premium of 23 percent.

“People are willing to pay more for green-certified homes,” said Dakota Gale, sustainable finance program manager, Earth Advantage Institute.

Gale added that the process of certification for new homes is relatively simple. “It’s pretty low-hanging fruit,” he said. “We hold a builders hand all the way through the process.”

Oddly, new homes in Clark County, Wash., with green certification sold for 14 percent less than their non-certified counterparts, the only such anomaly in the analysis.

The overall share of the housing market for green-certified homes dipped slightly in the metro area in the last year, dropping from 19.8 percent of the overall market to 18.2 percent. Green homes were steadily gaining market share each year in recent reports.

“Why? My guess it was a first-time home-buyer market last year and many starter homes aren’t built to green standards,” Gale said.

The report includes Multnomah, Clackamas, Columbia, Washington and Yamhill Counties in Oregon and Clark County in Washington. Full data is available from Earth Advantage.

Source: Sustainable Business Oregon

@SustainableBzOR | christinawilliams@bizjournals.com | 503.219.3438

Aspen’s chief building official Stephen Kanipe recently spent a week in Dallas helping to craft a new green construction code for commercial buildings.

Kanipe sat on a panel of 12 that reviewed upwards of 1,400 changes to the first draft of the International Green Construction Code. The hearings took place May 14-21 in Dallas. Kanipe has been working with the International Code Council on green building codes for about two years.

The hearings were characterized by 13-hour days where proponents or opponents of changes to every section of the code that was up for review could make their arguments. The hall at the Sheraton Hotel also was packed with lobbyists from the construction industry and manufacturers, Kanipe said. At the end of the week, the committee had produced a new section of its commercial building code that will be up for final adoption at a meeting in Phoenix later this fall.

“The committee does the best it can to determine if the changes are awkward or forward the intent and purpose” of the green building code, Kanipe said, adding that various groups — be they builders, administrators or materials suppliers — have differing opinions on the changes.

The International Green Construction code would be applied to all buildings — except duplexes and single-family homes — in jurisdictions that adopt it. It is intended to manage how energy is delivered to a site, how a building uses water and how it’s situated toward the sun, among other elements, Kanipe said.

The International Code Committee paid for the trip, although Kanipe spent many hours of his time at work preparing for the meeting, he said. City officials granted him authority to do so because they feel it’s important for Aspen to stake out a leadership position on green building issues, Kanipe said. At the conference, he joined colleagues from building departments in Austin and Seattle, among other green conscious cities.

Source: AspenDailyNews.com


The sustainable design and green building movement have made tremendous advances over the past decade to the point that virtually every building project today employs some level of green design.  And yet despite the bar being raised significantly there remains resistance in the public and private sectors to embracing “no brainer” investments in sustainable building and infrastructure that would further benefit all stakeholders.

It is my belief that in order to convince business and government leaders to take the next step, and invest more heavily in sustainable design solutions, design professionals need to become more conversant in the economics and profit potential inherent in smart, sustainable design…we need to talk the talk.

Proponents of green building and sustainable design have included a “triple bottom line” (TBL) argument in their pitch as the movement has grown.  The three P’s of TBL are most commonly listed in the following order:

1.      People (social)

2.      Planet (environmental)

3.      Profit (economics)

For background, Wikipedia states that sustainability was first defined by the Brundtland Commission of the United Nations in 1987. Over a decade later the TBL phrase was coined by John Elkington in his 1998 book “Cannibals with Forks: the Triple Bottom Line of 21st Century Business.”

The most prominent US organization in the green design space, the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), has stated that they “pursue robust triple bottom line solutions that clarify and strengthen a healthy and dynamic balance between environmental, social and economic prosperity. “ Although the USGBC speaks about a commitment to TBL solutions, the origins and current focus of their successful Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) system are primarily rooted in environmental concerns. When factoring in the life cycle returns achieved from investments made in pursuit of LEED® credits there is a clear economic benefit, yet architects, engineers and designers often are less passionate and only marginally successful at making a strong business case for sustainable designs.

Of course most design professionals are not trained as business people, and our motivation for embracing sustainability seems naturally biased towards the first two P’s of the TBL triumviri, namely “people” and “planet.” By contrast, the original protagonists for sustainability and TBL thinking started with economic “profit” driven decision-making and sought to add social and environmental performance considerations to the formula.

To achieve the more ambitious goals of the green building movement, architects, engineers and designers need to further embrace and communicate the profit and economic potential of sustainable design measures. We need to focus on honing our skills in communicating the economic and profit potential of smart design, with the same rigor that we have applied to advancing technical building solutions.

As an example, many business clients will balk at spending money on energy saving enhancements that they are told have a payback period of 7 to 10 years. However, if these same business executives were told that they could obtain a 10% to 14% return on investment (ROI) by investing capital in the current financial climate they would be more likely to sign on. By understanding and reframing the conversation in an economic and finance perspective project leaders can be more persuasive in obtaining managements support for green capital spending.

In the public sector as well more passionate communication about the economic ROI to taxpayers from sustainable building and infrastructure investment is needed to sway politicians to take action. Too often rational decision making is derailed, and policy stalls, when liberals focus only on saving the planet and their conservative foes challenge the science behind global climate change, rejecting any consideration of spending on sustainability. Despite the divisive social or environmental beliefs across the population, it is safe to say that there is more political unity around the economics of capital spending that saves taxpayers money.

Do you agree that the third “P” in the TBL formula – profit and economics – needs to be more prominently embraced by the design and building industry as we seek to promote a more sustainable built environment? Do you have successful ideas or examples to share on the topic?


Source: Triplepundit.com

Ronald Weston, AIA, LEED AP is an architect and consultant who assists small business and social entrepreneurs with the sustainable design and planning of their built environments.

Demand For Certified Lumber, Recycled Content Concrete, Green Floor Coverings, And Other Efficient Fixtures Will See Double-Digit Growth Through 2015.

International business research company The Freedonia Group released an industry forecast detailing the growth of demand for green building materials through 2015. According to the report, U.S. demand for green building materials (products which can contribute to LEED credits) will expand 13% annually through 2015, generating sales of more than $70 billion.

The report is entitled “Green Building Materials,” and is available for purchase on the company’swebsite. It predicts that the demand for green building materials will outpace the growth of building construction expenditures. While this demand will support gains in the construction market, a bigger driver will be the expected rebound in the construction market after low 2010 levels.

Among green building materials, the fastest growing product will be Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified lumber and wood panels. The largest value gains will be seen in concrete products with recycled content, not only because their use will reduce the volume of waste sent to landfills, but because the concrete itself often performs better than traditional concrete. Green floor coverings (including Green Label Plus-certified) account for almost 25% of total market in 2010 and are expected to increase at a double-digit rate annually through 2015.

Efficient plumbing and lighting fixtures are also expected to post double-digit gains through 2015. This is due to improved efficiency, environmental concern, increases in building codes, and the rebound in the construction market.

The report analyzes historical market demand and forecasts for 2015 and 2020 by product, market, and region. The study also considers market environment factors, assesses the industry structure, evaluates company market share, and profiles 39 U.S. companies.

View a summary of the study (PDF).

Source: Consulting Specifying Engineer Mag

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