LEED Certification: requirements and criteria


It is the most recognized sustainability credential for architects, interior designers and project developers. Let’s find out what LEED Certification is, what it requires and its goals.

What is needed for LEED Certification?

LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), it provides a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations, and maintenance solutions. 

It involves all types of buildings and all building phases, including new construction, interior solutions, and maintenance. 

LEED certification looks closely at how buildings impact the environment and people’s health. The certification focuses on different areas of building, each with its own importance:

  • reduce buildings’ effects on climate change;
  • improve people’s health;
  • save and use water more efficiently;
  • protect animals, plants, and their environments;
  • use sustainable building materials that are good for the planet over the long run;
  • help communities grow and improve the areas around buildings;
  • save natural resources.

As a consequence, when applying for LEED certification, applicants must consider several important requirements to meet their green building goals. They need to provide detailed documentation to show they meet specific standards in key areas:

  • sustainability of the building site;
  • efficient water usage;
  • managing energy use and reducing greenhouse gas emissions;
  • choosing sustainable materials and resources;
  • maintaining good indoor environmental quality;
  • reducing the overall carbon footprint of the building.


What are the 7 criteria for LEED?


Specifically, the LEED rating system has seven criteria that building projects must meet to get a certification. 

  • Sustainable sites 
  • Water efficiency 
  • Energy and atmosphere
  • Materials and resources 
  • Indoor environmental quality 
  • Innovation in design process 
  • Regional priority 

To be a LEED certified building, the project must obtain at least 40 credits from the USGBC.

There are four levels of LEED Certification: Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum, each representing a higher commitment to being environmentally friendly.

  • Certified (40-49 points). This level means a building meets the basic LEED standards by earning at least 40% of the possible points. It shows a basic effort towards being eco-friendly, focusing on energy efficiency, saving water, and choosing sustainable materials. It recognizes a project’s first steps in reducing its impact on the environment.
  • Silver (50-59 points). Silver certification shows that a project has gone beyond the basic requirements by achieving more than 50% of the points. This level shows a stronger dedication to caring for the environment, with improvements like better energy management, more effective water-saving strategies, and using eco-friendly building materials. These efforts help reduce the building’s carbon footprint and improve the quality of its indoor environment.
  • Gold (60-79 points). Getting a Gold certification means a building is doing very well in sustainable design and operation, scoring over 60% of the LEED points. This level reflects a full commitment to sustainable practices. Gold-certified buildings stand out for their smart use of energy, reduced water use, and better indoor air quality, making them top examples of sustainability.
  • Platinum (80+ points). Platinum is the top LEED certification level, awarded to projects that earn more than 80% of the points. This level is for buildings that lead the way in sustainability, with cutting-edge green building technologies and methods. Platinum-certified buildings are leaders in energy efficiency, use minimal water, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and focus on improving the health and well-being of their occupants. These buildings not only greatly lessen their environmental impact but also set new standards in sustainable design and construction, inspiring others to follow suit.


What makes you LEED certified?


The adoption of sustainable building materials contributes significantly to achieving LEED Certification. Sustainable materials are used in buildings because they are good for the environment. These materials have little negative impact on the environment from the time they are taken from the earth to when they are disposed of or recycled. 

Expanded metal is undoubtedly a sustainable material thanks to its characteristics.

  • Low environmental impact. The processing steps do not generate waste, and the transformation takes place without the use of polluting substances.
  • Recycled resources. A metal like aluminium, a very common material for producing expanded metal, retains its original performance even when used as a material that is 80% recycled.
  • Durability and longevity. Expanded metal’s painting and anodizing techniques provide twenty years of protection against external agents. Furthermore, Corten steel – another material highly appreciated for expanded metal – resists the corrosive effects of various weather conditions by developing a coating which enhances its longevity. 
  • High energy performance. Expanded metal can make buildings more energy-efficient in several ways.It lets in a lot of natural light and air. By improving air flow and letting more daylight in, it reduces the need for artificial lighting and air conditioning. This can lead to big savings on energy. When used as a solar shading solution, expanded metal can block some of the sun’s heat. 


How long does it take to get LEED certified?

The amount of time it takes to get LEED certification can differ a lot based on various factors, such as the project’s size and complexity, the certification level you are aiming for, and how ready the building team is with the needed documents and sustainability efforts. 

  • Registration and preparation. The project must be registered with the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). Following registration, the project team typically spends time preparing documentation and ensuring that the building meets LEED standards. This phase can take anywhere from a few months to over a year, depending on the project.
  • Submission of documentation. Once the project is ready, all relevant documentation is submitted to the USGBC for review. This includes detailed descriptions of the building’s sustainable features and practices across various categories such as energy efficiency, water usage, materials used, and more.
  • Review process. After submission, the review process by the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) begins. This process typically takes about 20-25 business days for the initial review. If additional information or corrections are needed (a common occurrence), there will be another review period following the resubmission of documents. Each review cycle can add several weeks to the timeline.
  • Certification. Once all criteria are met and the final review is successful, the project receives its LEED certification. The review process itself, from initial submission to final approval, can take several months.
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