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Smart Growth

US Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®)

Description A series of rating systems aimed at increasing the environmental and health performance of buildings' sites and structures and of neighborhoods. LEED® covers the design, construction, and operation of all types of buildings.

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Standard Type1
  • Rating and certification system
Mandatory/ Voluntary2
  • Voluntary
Building Type(s)
  • Commercial: all
  • Industrial: all
  • Mixed use: all
  • Residential: all
Project Type
  • New construction
  • Existing buildings
  • Additions
Subject Areas
  • Sustainable sites
  • Energy efficiency
  • Water efficiency
  • Materials and resource use
  • Indoor environmental quality
  • Emissions
  • Operations and maintenance
Community Adoption/Use
  • Communities could use the rating systems to encourage greener construction of commercial buildings, homes, or neighborhoods.
Certification/Compliance Process
  • LEED® points are awarded on a 100-point scale, and credits are weighted to reflect their potential environmental impacts. Ten bonus credits are available, four of which address regionally specific environmental issues. A project must satisfy all prerequisites and earn a minimum number of points to be certified. Third-party certification is required.
  • Includes 4 levels of certification—Certified, Silver, Gold, or Platinum.
Relationship to Other Standards
  • Meeting or achieving specific ASHRAE standards is necessary for achieving several of the credits.

¹In the building community, there is no consistent use or definition of the term "standard." EPA uses the term "standard" here in a broad sense to mean "something established by authority, custom, or general consent as a model or example: CRITERION" (Merriam-Webster). EPA uses it as an umbrella term to encompass model codes, rating systems, and other publications that provide criteria for the design, construction, and maintenance of buildings.

²Any standard can be adopted as a voluntary or mandatory program. We indicate here the intent of the authors.

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