Markets working to support sustainable development

LEED Green Building Certification System

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a 3rd party certification system for ‘green buildings’ and can be applied to any building type.

It provides a framework for identifying and implementing green building design, construction and management by focusing on seven key areas:

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

Each building is allocated points based on their envrionemntal impacts and human benefits. Buidlings will then achieve certification if they earn points according to the following levels:

  • Certified (40-49)
  • Silver (50-59)
  • Gold (60-79)
  • Platinum (80+)
Market coverage: 

LEED has international market coverage - there are 63311 projects in 91 countries (January, 2014) and there are billions of square feet of buildings that have LEED certification.

Background information: 

LEED was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USBGC) in March 2000. The USGBC is a non-profit organisation based in Washington DC with over 16,000 member companies and organisations.

Funding source: 
  • Membership fees to USGBC (payable annually: US$300 – US$12,500 depending on organisation size and type)
  • Registration fees for LEED projects: US$450 for USGBC members and US$600 for non-members
  • Certification fee is variable – however on average costs are approximately US$2000
Notable information: 

During the LEED version 4 consultation periods, there was a lot of debate concerning how stringent the standards for materials and resources should be. On one side, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) argued that maintaining a high bar would enable the top performers to be recognised in their sectors and
the members of the US Green Business Council voted 84% in favour of including cradle-to-cradle analysis for materials. On the other side, there has been intense pressure from the rest of the industry to weaken the standards set. As such, several trade groups representing companies that supply the industry are pushing instead for the alternative certification scheme, Green Globes (Sustainable Business, News, 17 July 2013).