Going Green with LEED Certification: How to Build an Eco-friendly Space

Take a moment to think about the buildings around you. Have you ever wondered how they impact the environment and the people who occupy them? Well, wonder no more!

Enter LEED, a game-changer in the world of architecture and construction!

What is LEED, you may ask?

Well, it stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and it's a rating system that evaluates how environmentally friendly a building is.

Now, let us ask you this: do you care about the environment? Do you care about your health and well-being? If you answered yes to either of these questions, then you are in luck.

By pursuing LEED certification, you can showcase your dedication to sustainability and environmental responsibility while reaping the benefits of a healthier and more efficient building.

It's pretty much a win-win situation for you and the planet!

So, are you ready to dive into the world of LEED and learn how you can make your building a poster boy of sustainability? Great, let's go!

What is LEED Certification?

So, what exactly is this LEED certification we keep talking about?

Well, it's an official stamp of approval given to buildings that meet a bunch of eco-friendly criteria set out by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

These folks are a non-profit organization who created a rating system called Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), which basically rates how green and environmentally friendly abuilding is.

Think of it as a report card for the planet!

They look at everything from how much energy and water the building uses to the quality of the air inside.

How LEED Certification can Benefit Your Business

Okay, now let's dive into how LEED certification can give your business a boost.

First off, focusing on sustainability can actually save you money in the long run by increasing efficiency and reducing waste.

It also shows that you care about the environment, which then can attract more customers and create loyal fans of your brand.

But that's not all!

LEED Certification

With LEED certification, you may even be eligible for grants and financial benefits that can further support your business goals.

And, let's not forget the potential for higher rental rates and resale values for property owners and landlords.

Not to mention, LEED-certified buildings are designed to reduce energy and water consumption, which can ultimately lower operational costs associated with utilities, maintenance, and cleaning.

So, all in all, pursuing LEED certification can lead to numerous opportunities and benefits for your business.

As the saying goes, "Investing in sustainability is investing in the future of your business.”

LEED Certification for Buildings

When it comes to LEED certification, it's not just limited to a specific type of building or project stage. Whether you're building a new construction or working on the maintenance of an existing one, there's a LEED certification framework that fits your needs!

Interesting isn’t it?

Generally, the rating system is divided into different categories and they are as follows:

● Building Design and Construction (BD+C)

● Interior Design and Construction (ID+C)

● Building Operations and Maintenance (O+M)

● Neighborhood Development (ND)

● Homes

● Cities

LEED Certification Requirements

If you think getting a LEED certification is about checking a few random boxes and calling it a day, think again, because there’s more to this than meets the eye.

Earning this sought-after LEED certification requires a building to showcase its commitment to sustainability by excelling in a range of categories. These categories cover everything right from energy and water efficiency to the use of sustainable materials.

Each category in the LEED rating system has prerequisites that are mandatory, as well as credits that can be earned by choosing the best options based on cost, environmental benefits, and organizational goals.
Following are the nine LEED credit categories buildings generally obtain points in.

• Integrative Process

• Location and Transportation

• Sustainable Sites

• Water Efficiency

• Energy and Atmosphere

• Materials and Resources

• Indoor Environmental Quality

• Innovation

• Regional Priority

LEED Certification Levels:

Let’s think of LEED certification as a ladder to sustainable success - with four levels to climb, each higher than the last. The more points your building earns, the higher level of certification it receives.

Here are the four levels:

Certified: 40-49 points

Silver: 50-59 points

Gold: 60-79 points

Platinum: 80+ points

So, what does this tell us?

Well, the more eco-friendly features and sustainable practices you incorporate into your building design, the more points you can earn towards a higher level of certification.

LEED Certification Levels

LEED Certification Process

Now, what does it actually take for abuilding to achieve LEED certification?

To become LEED certified, a building must undergo a rigorous evaluation process, which includes the following steps.

Choose a specific rating system for your building:

When it comes to getting LEED certification for your building, the first thing you need to do is pick a rating system that's just right for your project. But hold up, it's not a one-size-fits-all kind of thing – the LEED certification can vary depending on the type of building you've got going on. To help you out, check out the Discover LEED tool, which can give you a good starting point for selecting the best rating system for your building. And don't forget about the rating system selection guidance – that can really come in handy!

Lead a Charrette:

So, a charrette is basically a session where everyone who's got skin in the game gets together to talk about going green with the building strategies. We're talking project owners, contractors, consultants, engineers, designers, and tenants – all in one place, sharing their thoughts on costs and benefits. It's a great way to make sure everyone's on the same page and working towards the same goal.

Check MPR compliance:

Before you jump into the LEED certification process, make sure your project has everything it needs to meet the prerequisites and minimum program requirements for the rating system you've chosen. Just check out the LEED Minimum Program Requirements section and you'll be good to go!

Register your project:

The next step involves hopping on over to the LEED Online platform and filling out all the necessary forms and paying the fee. Once you're registered, you'll have access to all kinds of helpful online resources and you can submit your certification application without any hassle.

Earn credits:

Every LEED rating system has its own set of credits, and your certification level depends on the number of points you earn across those credits. To learn more about all the available credits, just head over to the LEED Credit Library and you'll be in the know!

LEED documentation:

When it's time to start putting together all your documentation, make sure to update all the credit templates, narratives, drawings, specs, and pictures on the LEED Online platform. Once you're done, be sure to give everything a good once-over before submitting your application for review.

Pay certification fee:

When you submit your LEED certification application for review, you'll need to pay a fee. The amount depends on your project's size and rating system.


Once you submit your LEED application, the GBCI will review it for compliance with the selected rating system. If they need more information, they'll ask for it during the preliminary review. After that, you'll need to submit the requested documents for the final review. The whole process usually takes about 20-25 business days. Once your review results are in, you can accept them and confirm your LEED certification based on the points you've earned.

LEED Certification Made Easy

So, there you have it!

Remember how in the beginning we said that even buildings can be the poster boys of sustainability? Well it’s possible with a LEED certification.

Getting one though may seem like an uphill climb, but don't worry – with the help of Illumine-i's experienced LEED professionals, you can rest assured that your building will meet all the necessary criteria for certification. From green design to green construction, we've got you covered.

So, take the leap and join the movement towards a greener future – your building, and the planet, will thank you for it!