Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a set of rating systems for the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of green buildings, homes and neighborhoods.
Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), LEED building is intended to help building owners and operators be environmentally responsible and use resources efficiently. Proposals to modify the LEED building standards are offered and publicly reviewed by USGBC’s member organizations, which number almost 20,000.
Unlike Model Building Code, such as the International Building Code, only members of the USGBC and specific “in-house” committees may add, subtract or edit the standard, based on an internal review process. Model Building Codes are voted on by members and “in-house” committees, but allow for comments and testimony from the general public during each and every code development cycle at Public Review hearings, generally held multiple times a year.
From 1994 to 2006, LEED grew from one standard for new construction to a comprehensive system of interrelated standards covering all aspects of the development and construction process. LEED also has grown from six volunteers on one committee to more than 200 volunteers on nearly 20 committees and nearly 150 professional staff. LEED standards have been applied to more than 7,000 projects in the United States and 30 countries, covering more than 1.5 billion square feet (140 km²) of development area.
Many U.S. federal agencies and state and local governments require or reward LEED certification. However, four states (Alabama, Georgia, Maine, and Mississippi) have effectively banned the use of LEED in new public buildings, thanks to lobbying by “timber giants and manufacturers of chemical-filled building products”.
USGBC’s Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) offers various accreditations to people who demonstrate knowledge of the LEED rating system, including LEED Accredited Professional (LEED AP), LEED Green Associate, and since 2011, LEED Fellows, the highest designation for LEED professionals. GBCI also certifies projects pursuing LEED.