The LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system helps builders and building managers implement construction and maintenance solutions that are both green and practical. It was developed in 2000 by the United States Green Building Council and has been used in apartment buildings, hotels, office buildings, schools, retail outlets, health care institutions, new construction, renovations to older buildings and much more.
Unlike some rating systems, LEED doesn’t focus on one aspect of building. It encompasses the whole process by looking at items such as:
1. Construction on sustainable sites, such as previously developed land or land that will not interrupt important ecosystems
2. Smarter water use through appliances, fixtures and landscaping that prevent water pollution
3. Use of renewable and clean energy sources
4. Preventing wasteful uses of resources and using sustainable materials
5. Strategies that improve indoor environmental quality
6. Building in locations that are near infrastructure and community resources
7. Educating homeowners and business owners on what tools they can implement to make their structures green
Buildings can become LEED certified through the Green Building Certification Institute. Anyone who is interested must register their projects, and they will be judged on a scale of 100 points: 21 for sustainable sites, 11 for water efficiency, 37 for energy and atmosphere, 14 for materials and resources and 17 for indoor environmental quality.
Buildings that achieve 40 points after being evaluated can become a certified LEED building. Ten bonus points are also awarded for innovation in design and regional priority. Those who choose to participate are said to lower their operating costs, reduce waste in landfills, conserve water and energy and qualify for tax rebates.