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LEED, or the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a designation established by the U.S. Green Building Council. At its core, the designation aims to promote energy efficiency in building and homes across the United States. Buildings can be LEED certified, which means that they have successfully completed a rigorous accreditation process that takes into account all facets of a building or home’s construction. 

In order to become LEED certified, a building must demonstrate effective sustainable design in six areas: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, and innovation in design. Accreditation is difficult, but receiving a LEED certification shows the proprietor's commitment to designing and building truly energy efficient structures. 

When a building or home is reviewed, nearly all components of the structure are considered. Some common things LEED takes into account are:

o    Materials used and the transportation that was required to receive the materials, 
o    The amount of water used in construction and during operation, 
o    Air quality during construction and in operation, 
o    The building’s effect on the natural environment in which it is located, 
o    The amount of daylight available within the building to minimize electricity usage, and
o    Regionally-specific considerations based on regional concerns


There are four levels of LEED Certifications that are based on points earned in those and other categories. The four levels are: 


Certified: 40-49 pts 
Silver: 50-59 pts
Gold: 60-79 pts
Platinum:  80+ pts

Developing a project that meets LEED standards can prove more costly and time-consuming upfront when compared to more traditional methods. However, long-term energy efficiency and environmental benefits recognized can improve value over time and reduce overall operating costs.