What is LEED?
LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) was created by the US Green Building Council to recognize and encourage sustainable buildings and practices. Using detailed checklists, a project is assigned points for what environmentally conscious decisions have been made in categories that include sustainable sites, water efficiency, and energy and atmosphere. This system allows that not every project can meet every qualification due to the constraints of the space, time, or money, but provides ample opportunity to make more sustainable decisions.
There are four levels of LEED certification. The lowest level, LEED Certified, requires approximately 40-49 points. Silver requires 50-59, Gold 60-79, and Platinum 80+. The number of possible points depends to some extent on the building in question, but the point system encourages engineers, architects, and construction managers to think outside the box and put more effort into incorporating sustainable elements into their design.
For more information on the LEED classification system, click here.
In many ways, the LEED classification system benefits from being a nationwide program—it’s important to have a consistent standard to determine which buildings qualify as LEED and which ones do not. But it’s also important to recognize that LEED does not take regional differences into account. For example, having a light colored roof is part of the LEED heat island effect criteria because light colors reflect heat better than dark colors, therefore decreasing the amount of energy needed for cooling the building in the summer. However, above a certain latitudinal threshold, a dark colored roof saves energy because it can trap more heat during the winter and reduce the need to heat the building. LEED does not take this into account. The Lofts have a light-colored roof to comply with LEED standards, even though a dark colored roof would have saved more energy. These compromises can be detrimental to sustainability measures and are an issue with LEED.