About LEED 

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a third-party green building certification program used worldwide, developed by the non-profit U.S. Green Building Council(USGBC); it provides a rating to the diverse field of the building sector, which includes design, construction, operation, and maintenance of green buildings, homes, and neighbourhoods. LEED allows building owners and architects to design and construct in favour of the environment and use resources efficiently. 

The rise in climate change is deemed inevitable by every human being as a global scenario. LEED, USGBC, and similar programs seem a conducive movement toward climate change and saving our environment and resource from getting depleted by every inch of new construction.

A guide on how to get LEED Certification for the building - Sheet1
LEED Certification for buildings-Logo of LEED by USGBC_© Nate Davis

Things you should know before applying for LEED certification

Before applying for the certification of your building, you must be aware of the working of the system and you should be resilient to the specific criteria and norms formulated by the LEED certification system.

  1. Categories of LEED rating systems–  The LEED rating system is not limited to the construction of a building; instead, it has a wide range of certification criteria, such as LEED for Building Design and Construction (B.D. + C), which has been drafted for certification of residential design and construction; LEED for Interior Design and construction(I.D. +C), LEED for Building Operation and Maintenance (O + M) LEED for Neighbourhood Development(N.D.), and LEED for Cities and Communities which enables the town planning and formulation of cities to lead towards green and healthy cities.
A guide on how to get LEED Certification for the building - Sheet2
LEED Certification for buildings-Categories of LEED rating systems_©www.evebluetraining.com

2. Structure of LEED rating systems- The LEED rating system is formed of prerequisites and credits. Prerequisites define the strategies which a green building or any project must acquire for LEED certification. Credits are the optional and extra elements that if any building or project earns with the prerequisites elements, will gain points towards LEED certification.

The strategies and elements of prerequisites and credits slightly differ as per the building type and associated rating system. LEED has formulated a set of elements to derive its certification requirements-

  1. Sustainable sites
  2. Water efficiency
  3. Materials and resources 
  4. Indoor environmental quality
  5. Innovation in design
A guide on how to get LEED Certification for the building - Sheet3
LEED Certification for buildings-Structure of LEED rating systems_©www.tumblr.com

3. Levels of certification- As per the standardized prerequisites and credits provided as a guideline to the architect, owner, and design team, any project satisfying the prerequisites and earning a minimum number of credits can achieve a certification other than that if the design team enhances their project following the reference guide they achieve certain points which differs according to their work and norms of LEED.

Hence there are various levels of certification and their threshold guided by LEED such as-

  • Certified: 40-49 points
  • Silver: 50-59 points 
  • Gold: 60-79 points
  • Platinum: 80 + points
LEED Certification for buildings-Levels of certification_©www.projectsprofile.com

Guidelines to achieve a LEED certification for your building

After deciding to contribute to the green building construction prepare a complete plan following the below-mentioned guidelines-

  • Build your design perspective as per the development category- The very first step is to target your development category or building type as per the LEED rating system, whether a project is oriented toward Building Design and Construction or Interior Design and construction and other categories after you made your decision formulate your design perspective and the concept of the project accordingly.
  • Ensure your checklist at every step of your project- whatever project you develop, make sure that you keep an eye on the LEED structure system and its requirements alongside the concept formation, planning and design of the project, implementation of technological advancement, and aesthetics. You can prepare a checklist enlisting all the requirements mentioned by LEED, from sustainable sites, and energy to innovation criteria, and before starting and after completion of the particular work, tally your list with your project construction and working; this will direct the working of your project more efficiently.
  • Estimate the budget of your certification- Besides the cost of the project construction, you also have to prepare an estimate of your certification process, as in the step of certification, you are charged some amount of money as your registration fee, certification fee, and other fees. Every charged fee has its criteria which differ from building to building, such as type of project, size of the project, and rating system under which the project has been registered. Other fees are related to reviews, appeals, and some other aspects of certification when required.
  • Register your project- After estimating and doing the pre-calculation of the project, you may now step ahead to register your project at the LEED official website under your preferred rating system as mentioned above- the five categories of a rating system, make sure you read all the requirements mentioned for your project category on the webpage, to check minimum program requirements visit LEED credit library. Supplemental Guidance to the Minimum Program Requirements provides a guideline for LEED 2009 or LEED v4 projects. For guidance on LEED Homes and Midrise certification, you can access Guide to Certification: Homes. The website provides you proper guidance in the registration process, and with this, you have registered your project; complete the payment of registration fees under 60 days from the registration date to move the certification process further.
A guide on how to get LEED Certification for the building - Sheet5
LEED Certification for buildings-LEED 2009 or LEED v4 projects description_©www.usgbc.org
  • Apply the documents of your certification-  Once the registration is done start collecting the documents and information related to your projects such as calculations and analysis and documentation describing your achievements of prerequisites and the credits which you have selected, after collecting the documents check the quality of each document before uploading on a website
  • Submit and wait for the review- once you are satisfied with your documents and projects submit your application. Your submission will be reviewed by GBCI, the review can be done as a whole or can be split into two-phase, review the design part separately and the construction part separately specifically for BD + C and ID + C.
  • Accept your certification- As soon as the application review is completed you get the certification level as per the points you have earned, you may now either accept the certification or you can further appeal for GBCI’s final report. After the final certification report, your project will be considered “closed out” which means you will not be able to appeal further for any review or certification level. So if you have achieved your desired LEED Certification, congratulations.


  1. https://www.usgbc.org/leed
  2. https://www.usgbc.org/articles/green-building-101-what-leed
  3. https://www.thebalancesmb.com/a-step-by-step-guide-to-achieving-leed-certification-845316

Divyanshi Sahu is a young ,passionate architect and co-author of book –“philosophies from not so philosophers ” the connectivity of her thoughts with the architectural diversity , drives her to explore and write more about the variations of the field.