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Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a set of rating systems for evaluating the design and environmental performance of buildings, homes and neighborhoods. Devised by the United States Green Building Council, the system provides specifications to projects for environmentally friendly actions both during the construction and use of the building. LEED was started to appreciate, drive and accelerate green building practices.
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design is a voluntary program and provides a framework for green buildings that can identify and implement measurable design, construction, maintenance and operations solutions. One salient feature of LEED is its possible adaptation by different building types. It measures nine key areas:
The credit-based system sets identical criteria for every project to qualify and highly encourages sustainable design. It causes the building operators and owners to be more environmentally responsible and also use the resources more efficiently. LEED provides certification to quality building projects which satisfy the requirements. The certifications provided by LEED are categorized as Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum, with more points awarded to higher energy efficiency.
There are many benefits of obtaining LEED certification in projects. Firstly, it projects a positive image of the project to the community. Green building practices can help in significant cost and energy savings. It promotes clean and renewable energy. The indoor air quality and daylight provides better quality of life to those in the buildings. Indirectly, this helps in increasing the productivity of the people in the building, home or neighborhood. Many cities and states are providing tax benefits for green buildings and some U.S. government agencies are also adopting LEED or similar standards, with some ranking the minimum qualification as equivalent to LEED Silver certification.