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LEED Rating Systems June 13, 2010

Filed under: ALL ABOUT LEED — Anindya & Navaneethan @ 7:24 pm



Leadership In Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a rating system through which ‘greenness’ of a building is measured. Degree of ‘greenness’ of a project is based on a 100 point scale with additional bonus of 10 points.(6 possible Innovation in Design and 4 Regional Priority points). Latest version of LEED ration systems (LEED v3.0) has different rating systems for different categories of projects

    • For Existing Buildings
      • LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance
    • For New Construction and Major Renovations
      • LEED for New Construction and Major Renovation
      • LEED for Core & Shell
      • LEED for Schools
      • LEED for Commercial Interiors
      • LEED for Retail
      • LEED for Healthcare
      • LEED for Homes
      • LEED for Neighborhood Development

LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance

  • Majorly existing building (use 40/60 rule to understand ‘majorly’, explained later in this article)
  • Must comply with Minimum Occupancy Rates: The project must be in a state of typical physical occupancy, and all building systems must be operating at a capacity necessary to serve the current occupants.(Note: The occupancy rate required for certification has been lowered from 75% to 50%)

LEED for New Construction and Major Renovation: Addresses design and construction activities for both new buildings and major renovations of existing buildings. A major renovation involves major HVAC renovation, significant envelope modifications, and major interior rehabilitation

LEED for Core and Shell Development: Appropriate for whole buildings in which the entity pursuing certification controls the design and construction of all primary structural components and the exterior skin but not the interior fit-out/alterations(exception: common spaces, such as lobbies, etc).

LEED for Schools: Appropriate for buildings that provide both core learning spaces and ancillary learning spaces.

    • Core learning spaces: Formal learning spaces, including classrooms, instructional pods or activity areas, conference rooms, libraries, offices, speech clinics, offices used for educational purposes and music rooms for instruction, practice and performance.
    • Ancillary learning spaces: Informal learning spaces, including corridors, cafeterias, gymnasia and indoor swimming pools.
    • It was designed with children in grades K-12 in mind, but it may be used for other age levels as well.
    • Case 01: A new school for K-12 is to be constructed. It has 40%  of the building square footage as core and ancillary learning spaces. Can it use LEED for School rating system?
      • Answer: No, it may use LEED for New Construction and Major Renovation.
      • Follow the table

LEED for School


LEED for Commercial Interiors: Appropriate for interior spaces that are undergoing alteration work.


LEED for Homes: Suitable for single family/multi-family residential constructions

LEED for Retail:  Recognizes the unique nature of retail design and construction projects
and addresses the specific needs of retail spaces.

LEED for Healthcare: Promotes sustainable planning, design and construction for high performance healthcare facilities.

LEED for Neighborhood Development: Integrates the principles of smart growth, urbanism and green building into the first national system for neighborhood design.


Remember that the gross floor area of a LEED project must be certified under a single rating system. Project team might find them in a situation (read, confusion) where two or more rating system may appear appropriate for a particular project. For example, an existing building that has part of it being newly constructed . In such circumstances LEED recommends 40/60 rule (this rule is only for guidance, not  a rigid rule).

  • 40/60 rule:

    a) If a particular rating system is appropriate for 40% or less of a LEED project building or space, then that rating system should not be used.
    b) If a particular rating system is appropriate for 60% or more of a LEED project building or space, then that rating system should be used.
    c) Project teams with buildings and spaces that do not fall into the scenarios described in a) and b) must independently assess their situation and decide which rating system is most applicable.

It should be noted that a building can earn multiple certifications for the same building. The most common example is once a building has been built and earned a New Construction (BD&C) rating, the project team can apply for Operations & Maintenance certification.

Every LEED rating system has six major performance criteria in

  • Sustainable sites – Does the choice of the selected site maximizes sustainability?
  • Water efficiency – What could be done to save on landscaping water use and interior
    water use?
  • Energy and atmosphere – How can the project cut energy costs and
    encourage green energy development and use?
  • Materials and resources – Are the choices and uses of building materials sustainable for the
    environment? and How do we manage and minimize waste?
  • Indoor environmental quality – how can we increase the productivity,
    satisfaction, and health of the occupants?
  • Innovation in Design (or Operations) – what can we innovate in terms of strategies that is not addressed in the rating system to add even further value to the project?
  • Regional Priority – Encourages teams to address specific environmental priorities in the project’s region.

Beside the six performance criteria (sometimes referred as LEED categories), LEED for Homes and LEED for Neighborhood Development, each has two additional categories.

The two additional categories for LEED for Homes are:

  • Location and linkages
  • Education and awareness

The two additional categories for LEED for Neighborhood Development are:

  • Neighborhood pattern & design
  • Green infrastructure & buildings

We always welcome comments and suggestions. We will be happy to know, how you like this article.

Greenprep Blog Administrators.


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