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LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and is a suite of rating systems for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings, homes and neighborhoods. [1]

It was developed by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). The LEED founding chairman was Robert K. Watson who spearheaded LEED from 1995 until 2006. The intention of LEED is to provide building owners and operators clear and precise guidelines for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions.

Use In Building Construction


Since its inception in 1998, the USGBC has grown to encompass more than 40,000 projects in the United States and 30 countries. Over 1.501 billion square feet (140 km²) of development area has been influenced. LEED is an open and transparent process. The USGBC members, numbering nearly 20,000, publicly review proposed technical criteria for approval.[2]

The Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) was established by USGBC to provide a series of exams to allow individuals to become accredited for their knowledge of the LEED rating system. From these exams, a number of points are assessed that take into account a variety of factors and methods such as energy and water efficiency, the material used in the construction of the building (eco-friendly, recycled, etc.) and even the methods in which this material is delivered to the jobsite,(the closer materials are sourced the higher the score given). [3] Once all the points are tabulated, buildings are certified to one of four levels. The minimum certification by LEED requires 40 points and it takes 80 points to gain their coveted platinum certification.

LEED for New Construction and Major Renovations

To encompass their intensive certification process, LEED has divided it into six categories, these being:

  • Sustainable Sites
  • Water Efficiency
  • Energy & Atmosphere
  • Material & Resources
  • Indoor Environmental Quality
  • Innovation

Each category is further divided into subcategories that are graded on a 1/1 basis. The exception to this are Optimized Energy Performance which is graded out of 10, On-site Renewable Energy which is graded out of 3, and Innovation in Design which is graded out of 4.


Apart from bragging rights, there are major incentives to being recognized by LEED. States and Provinces each offer their own from of tax incentives for complying with LEED standards. For instance, in Nevada construction materials that are recognized by LEED are completely exempt from local taxes. [4] Other incentives include expedited permitting government grants and low-interest loans. Aside from this, LEED certified buildings enjoy lower utility bills and a higher occupancy rate than non-certified structures.

Examples of LEED Certified Condominiums

Pomaria 1455 Howe Street, Vancouver, BC

The Pomaria is a certified LEED Silver building.

Using entirely Geothermal heating and cooling, the system at Pomaria provides both heating and air conditioning for all of its suites using energy from the earth.

Pomaria features "sky-gardens," outdoor common area gardens between the 16th and 19th floor of the building which can be accessed by residents of those floors .

Riverhouse 1 River Terrace, New York City

The Riverhouse was designed and constructed to follow the certification guidelines of LEED Gold under New Construction Version 2.1.

Energy Star appliances, low E double windows, locally sourced building materials, and green roof all contribute to the pursuit of LEED Gold.

Materials were acquired locally and were made of renewable materials.

Paints, adhesives, and sealants that were used had low or non-polluting characteristics resulting in a healthier respiratory environment.

One Jackson Square 122 Greenwich Avenue, New York City

One Jackson Square is a LEED Silver Certified building.

It has incorporated green roofs, planted decks, the use of sustainable material in the the building's construction, the harvesting of run-off from rainwater and natural daylight.

Also, it is located close to public transit and in a very walk-able community.

The building was designed with a 'green agenda' and has incorporated impressive green features into it, resulting in a number of design awards.

Superior Ink 400 West 12th Street, New York City

Superior Ink LEED certification score card

Superior Ink Condominiums was constructed to follow sustainable and environmentally conscientious techniques.

As such, it has gathered a LEED Certification of Silver.

Day to day needs can easily be met without the use of a car with a walk score of 94 out of 100. A perfect public transit score of 100/100 is awarded for the more than 30 bus and rail options close at hand.

Brompton 205 East 85th Street, New York City

The Brompton Score Card

The Brompton is considered an environmentally friendly building.

According to the LEED Silver Certification score card pictured here, The Brompton achieved 10 out of 14 marks in Sustainable Sites for accomplishing most of the category's goals.

Marks were lost for not enhancing storm water design likely due to its central location away from the ocean.

Additional marks in this category may have been gained had the architect and developer added a bike storage area.

Canada House on the Water 151 & 181 Athletes Way, Vancouver, BC

As its name suggests, Canada House on the Water is built right on the south shore of False Creek.

The Seawall wraps around False Creek and offers residents a scenic path for walking, running, cycling, and rollerblading.

The Village at False Creek boasts Vancouver’s first and only LEED Platinum community, achieving the top standards set by the US Green Building Council.

This is the highest level of LEED Certification for a neighbourhood of this size.

External Links


  1. Platinum Level USGBC Member
  2. U.S. Green Building Council
  3. Canada Green Building Council
  4. Enermodal Engineering
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