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What Is LEED Certification and Levels to Get Certified?

What Is LEED Certification and Levels to Get Certified?


When many people think about LEED certification and green buildings, they imagine ultra-modern buildings, out of reach for the average company. But building a sustainable project for your company isn’t as out of reach as you may think. In fact, office, healthcare, higher education, and K-12 projects make up over 60% of LEED certifications in the US.


If you’re wondering what LEED certification is and how to get certified, we’re about to answer your questions. Let’s get started.


What Is LEED Certification?


LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. It is an international rating system for sustainable and environmentally sound buildings.


All buildings, whether commercial or residential, as well as project types, can qualify for LEED certification. Whether you’re looking at new construction or maintenance upgrades, your project can fit into the LEED certification requirements.


Benefits of LEED Certification


The LEED framework is the world’s most widely recognized and used green building certification. By seeking out and building according to the framework, you can ensure your building is highly efficient, healthy, and cost-saving while meeting environmental performance goals.


Accountability through certifications and assessment can help you know that the steps you are taking during your project are as environmentally safe as possible. This is somewhat like the due diligence process you might take by performing a Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment before purchasing a site.


What Are the 4 Levels of LEED Certification?


Certification involves a point system following the LEED certification checklist. Points are awarded based on the following areas:


  • Sustainable sites
  • Water efficiency
  • Energy and atmosphere
  • Materials and resources
  • Indoor environmental quality


Private homes can become LEED certified through improvements that fall under nine categories including:


  • Sustainable sites
  • Water efficiency
  • Energy and atmosphere
  • Materials and resources
  • Indoor environmental quality
  • Locations and linkages
  • Awareness and education
  • Innovation and design
  • Regional priority


Buildings and homes can earn up to 110 points, which earn them a certain level of certification. Lower certifications are for those buildings that feature basic sustainable designs, while higher categories are awarded to buildings that use as little energy as possible.


The four LEED certification levels and the necessary number of points are:


  • LEED Certified: 40-49 points
  • Silver Certification: 50-59 points
  • Gold Certification: 60-70 points
  • Platinum Certification: 80+ points




If you wish to have your building LEED-certified, you should first determine your target certification level. Then, you should choose the rating system, using the USGBC’s 40/60 rule for help. You can then begin your project, using the LEED framework as guidance.


You will also need to pay a flat certification and registration fees. These fees range between $900 to $5,000 depending on the certification goal and size of your project.


Finally, you can begin to submit data on the credits that you achieve for your project. The USGBC’s Green Building Certification Institute will review your application. This usually takes about 20-25 days.


Buildings are LEED certified, but people can become LEED accredited. In order to earn accreditation, you’ll need to take an exam.


While there is no exam, there is an accreditation exam. This distinction is one of the common LEED certification mistakes.


This exam will allow you to earn accreditation as either a Green Associate or AP. Your accreditation will be valid for two years. Over this time, you’ll need to earn continuing education hours.


Pursue LEED for Your Green Project


LEED certification is a great step to ensure you are implementing sustainable strategies in your project. Working with a partner that makes meeting your environmental goals easier can be a huge help in the process of becoming LEED certified.


Contact Atlantic Environmental to discuss your needs and how environmental services can help your company.


We are happy to provide environmental services to NJ, NY, DE, PA, GA, CT, MD, and VA.

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