The word "LEED®" is one you are going to find often on this blog.  LEED is an acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, a green building rating system.

LEED is the baby of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).   While it was initiated in 1993, it did not publicly emerge until 1998 and has now grown into the standard for environmentally sustainable construction. 

USGBC offers a LEED green building certification system.  This, according to USGBC is "the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high performance green buildings." LEED offers a workshop program and a LEED Professional Accreditation program.   The later involves an accreditation exam given by a third party organization.  By all accounts the LEED's designation is not an easy one to get but more and more people, engineers in particular, are striving to achieve it.

The LEED standards seek to establish a common standard of:

  • measurement
  • integrated, whole-building design practices
  • environmental leadership in the building industry;

and to

  • Stimulate green competition
  • Raise consumer awareness of green building benefits
  • Transform the building market

The LEED rating system addresses six major areas:

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

LEED/USGBC membership includes more than 17,676 companies and organizations; over 4.2 billion square feet of building space are involved with the LEED program.  As the interest in green construction has grown over the last five years, membership has quadrupled.  Likewise, the annual U.S. market in green building products and services which was over $7 billion in 2005 is now over $12 billion.

LEED standards will come up frequently as we discuss environmentally sensitive design and construction.