LEED's mission is to:
  • Establish a common standard of measurement for “green buildings”, i.e., buildings with low environmental impact;
  • Promote integrated, whole-building practices;
  • Recognize environmental leadership in the building industry;
  • Stimulate green competition;
  • Establish market value by creating an internationally recognized certification mark;
  • Raise consumer awareness of green building benefits;
  • Transform the building market.

The system is based on awarding points for each requirement that contributes to the building’s sustainability. The level of certification depends on the total number of points earned.
Points are distributed across six major credit categories, each with required prerequisites and a number of possible base points for environmental performance, which together make up the building’s final score:
  • Sustainable sites (2 Prerequisites – 10 Credits ): LEED-certified buildings must have as little impact as possible on the construction site and its surroundings.
  • Water Efficiency (1 Prerequisite – 4 Credits): Systems for recovering runoff or water faucets with flow regulators must ensure maximum efficiency in water consumption.
  • Energy and Atmosphere (3 Prerequisites, 6 Credits): Buildings’ power needs can be significantly reduced by making the best use of renewable and local energy sources. In the United States, LEED buildings emit 350 fewer metric tons of carbon dioxide than other buildings into the atmosphere each year, guaranteeing electricity savings of around 32%.
  • Materials and Resources (1 Prerequisite, 7 Credits): Buildings constructed with natural, renewable or local materials such as wood receive a higher score in the LEED rating system.
  • Indoor Environmental Quality (3 Prerequisites, 10 Credits): Interiors must be designed so that the energy balance substantially breaks even, and to provide maximum comfort for the end user.
  • Innovation and Design Process + Regional Priority (3 Credits + 1 Credit and 4 Credits): Use of construction technologies which offer improvements over best practices constitutes added value for purposes of LEED certification.
The points earned in each credit category are added up to determine the certification level, which indicates the performance achieved by the building in terms of environmental sustainability. LEED certification levels are as follows:
  • CERTIFIED (40 - 49 points)
  • SILVER (50 - 59 points)
  • GOLD (60-79 points)
  • PLATINUM (80 or more points)

Addressing the entire process, from design through to construction per se, LEED requires a holistic approach if the program’s objectives are to be met. Only with extensive attention to integrated design and coordination can a building in harmony with all the areas indicated above be created.
The competitive advantages for those who adopt LEED standards, be they professionals or contractors, lie chiefly in the high final quality of the construction, the significantly lower operating costs that these buildings require by comparison with conventional types, and independent, third-party certification.
LEED certification, in fact, provides the market with a shared basis for making choices and a measurable standard for each aspect considered by the system. As a voluntary standard, it is more far-reaching than regulatory requirements.

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