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Requirements of LEED Certification June 14, 2010

Filed under: ALL ABOUT LEED — Anindya & Navaneethan @ 1:03 am


You may have heard about buildings getting LEED certified as LEED gold, LEED Platinum; this article is all about necessary requirements of LEED certification.

(Note: Individuals/professionals get LEED Accredited, buildings get LEED Certified)

There are three requirements necessary for building to get certified. They are:

  1. Meet the Minimum Program Requirements (MPR)
  2. Satisfy all Pre-requisites
  3. Satisfy a combination of Credits that achieve a certain number of points for the desired certification level.

What are the Minimum Program Requirements (MPR)?

To summarize minimum program requirements for certification under LEED 2009.

  1. Must comply with environmental laws
  2. Must be a building (no tents, boats, trailers, caves)
  3. Must use a reasonable site boundary
  4. Can’t be too small (atleast 1000 sqft – – – 250 sqft for Commercial Interiors)
  5. Must comply with Minimum Occupancy Rates
  6. Share all energy and water use data with USGBC 
  7. Must comply with a Minimum Building Area to Site Area Ratio (gross floor area atleast 2% of site area)

We suggest you to go through this document issued by USGBC for detailed understanding, Minimum Program Requirements

What are prerequisites?

Prerequisites are necessary preconditions for all LEED rating systems. A project must meet all pre-requisites for it to get LEED certified. GBCI defines ‘pre-requisite’ as
“The term “prerequisite” refers to a mandatory project characteristic, measurement, quality, value or function as identified within the LEED rating system. Prerequisites represent the key criteria that define ‘greenness’ . Each project must satisfy all specified prerequisites of the LEED rating system under which it is registered. Failure to meet any prerequisite will render a project ineligible for certification.”

Let us give you some examples of prerequisites for a LEED rating system (LEED for New Construction and  Major Renovation). It should be noted the following example is not a comprehensive and full list of credits and their respective prerequisites for LEED NC and MR. As a LEED GA aspirant, you may not have to know each prerequisites and their intents.

Credit: Sustainable Sites

  • Prerequisite 1 – Construction Activity Pollution Prevention
    (Intent: To reduce soil erosion, airborne dust generation and waterway sedimentation on construction sites that can be caused during construction activity.)

Credit: Water Efficiency

  • Prerequisite 1 – Water Use Reduction

Credit: Energy & Atmosphere

  • Prerequisite 1 – Fundamental Commissioning of Building Energy Systems
  • Prerequisite 2 – Minimum Energy Performance
  • Prerequisite 3 – Fundamental Refrigerant Management

Prerequisites are required to achieve certification.  Project teams pursuing LEED project certification must make sure that the project can meet all pre-requisite under a chosen rating system. If the project fails to meet pre-requisites, the building cannot earn LEED certification.

How does combination of Credits works towards LEED Certification? There are four levels of LEED certification, starting with

  • Certified: The project achieves 40-49 points
  • Silver: The project achieves 50-59 points
  • Gold: The project achieves 60-79 points
  • Platinum: The project achieves 80+ points

Credits define the sustainability goal (called ‘intent’) of a rating system. Each credit/prerequisite will have one or more requirements that must be met. By meeting these requirements for credits the project earns points. To illustrate, let us consider the following example,

  • Rating System chosen for the a project:
    • LEED for New Construction and Major renovation
  • Credit: Sustainable Sites
    • Prerequisite 1 – Construction Activity Pollution Prevention
    • Total points achievable under this credit: 26
  • Credit : Water Efficiency
    • Prerequisite 1 – Water Use Reduction
    • Total points achievable under this credit: 10

Therefore, to achieve LEED Certification (certified, silver, gold or platinum)

  • Satisfy ALL pre-requisites
  • The project team may not pursue a particular credit, but still it requires to meet all pre-requisites.
  • Project teams need to choose enough credits to achieve their desired certification level. Project teams can combine credits until they reach the desired number of points.
    • all of the credits are optional. Hence, project teams can pick and choose credits that they can pursue.

A building as a whole may use a combination of design strategies and products that can together contribute to a sustainable building. Therefore, two platinum rated buildings may follow different paths (combination of points). To know, how does a typical LEED project scorecard look like, click this link; LEED 2009 New Construction and Major Renovation Project Checklist

A building pursuing LEED certification undergoes typical phases. To understand the steps involved, read our article, Phases of LEED Certification


Feel free to drop your comments/suggestions. We will be happy to engage in any discussion.

Greenprep Blog Administrators.






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