The United States Green Building Council developed the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program to encourage builders to use sustainable and green practices. There are four levels at which a building can become LEED certified: certified, silver, gold, and platinum. Each of these designations signifies a specific level of energy conservation and resource management.
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The LEED system has been around since 1991, and at present there are LEED certified buildings in all 50 and in 24 countries around the world. The LEED system divides a building into six categories:
- sustainable sites
- water conservation
- energy and atmosphere
- materials and resources
- indoor environmental quality
- green design innovations
In order to become LEED certified, each of the six categories must be considered with respect to the environmental effects. Once a building is LEED certified, however, the rewards are numerous. LEED certification increases the value of the home, and often attracts potential buyers. Having a LEED certification can generate tax breaks, and can expedite the permitting process.
Right now, there are six sets of construction parameters for LEED structures:
- LEED-NC (new commercial construction and major renovations)
- LEED-CI (commercial interiors project)
- LEED-CS (core and shell projects)
- LEED-EB (existing buildings)
- LEED-H (homes)
- LEED-ND (neighborhood development)
As for builders themselves, the easiest way to become LEED certified is to take the Green Associate examination. The LEED Green Associate exam consists of 100 multiple-choice questions, and takes approximately 2 hours to complete. The entire exam process will take about two hours and twenty minutes.
The LEED Green Associate exam covers the following subjects:
- synergistic opportunities and the LEED application process
- project site factors
- water management
- project systems and energy impacts
- acquisition, installation, and management of project materials
- stakeholder involvement in innovation
- project surroundings and public outreach
To become LEED certified, an individual needs to earn at least 170 on a scale ranging from 125 to 200.
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