Photo © Ana Ka’ahanui


The LEED Rating Systems make up a voluntary program meant to objectively measure how sustainable a building is in several key areas:

  • impact on site and location

  • water efficiency

  • energy efficiency

  • material selection

  • indoor environmental quality

The system also encourages innovation.

The LEED standards are maintained by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), a nonprofit, non-governmental, membership-based organization. While participation in LEED is voluntary, the program owes some of its growth to municipal and state ordinances that have mandated it for public buildings and have offered incentives for private buildings.

  • LEED Finally Lives Up to Its Promise


    The 4.1 version of LEED’s design and construction rating systems is outstanding. Is it too late? 

  • Building Product Disclosure & Optimization (BPDO) Cheat Sheet


    The three Building Product Disclosure and Optimization (BPDO) credits in LEED v4 are pushing the industry into new territory. Suppliers have made significant progress on materials transparency and optimization since the release of version 4, but not enough to make all the points realistically achievable. With version 4.1, LEED has modified thresholds and simplified requirements so that all six points should be within reach for most projects.

  • EPD Quick-Start Guide: 5 Easy Steps


    Use these tips to get what you need from an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD), fast.

  • HPD Quick-Start Guide: 5 Easy Steps


    How to get solid information from a Health Product Declaration (HPD), in just five steps.

  • FSC, LEED, and the Price of Perfectionism


    A hard line against industry-sponsored alternatives to FSC certification in the past may have unfortunate outcomes for the world’s forests.

  • Finding HPDs: How We Do It At BuildingGreen


    There are several ways you can find Health Product Declarations. Here’s a look at them, including what BuildingGreen offers.

  • Three Steps To Make Green Globes Part of the Solution


    An entry-level alternative pushing LEED to get better would be great, but GBI’s Green Globes needs to start by joining the green building community.

  • Regulations Demanding Actual Data Are Leapfrogging LEED


    Now that California and Washington, D.C., are mandating energy use reporting for commercial buildings, the designation "LEED Certified" should be reserved for projects that document their actual performance through LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance.

  • Concerns About Broadening LEED's Wood Credit


    Bill Edgerton, AIA, writes about his concerns that broadening LEED's wood credit would weaken LEED and erode USGBC's credibility.

  • Why the USGBC Should Change LEED's Position on Wood


    Alex Wilson, who wrote a white paper for the USGBC recommending changes to the LEED Rating System relative to wood and biobased credits, explains why the changes make sense from an environmental standpoint.