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What is a LEED certification?

We break down how a building or community becomes LEED-certified and what the four levels mean.

Green leaves backdropped by a blurry building.

Everything from a house to an entire city can be LEED-certified.

Photo by Arun Thomas from Pexels

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City officials recently announced that Lexington — along with 12 other cities — has been selected to participate in the LEED for Cities Certification. So, what exactly does that mean? We won’t leed you on — here’s everything you need to know.

What is LEED?

LEED — which stands for “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design” — is an international green building system developed by the US Green Building Council (UGBC). The certification encourages more efficient buildings and communities through all phases of development, from new builds to maintenance.

Businesses and residences in Lexington will not be required to become LEED certified for the city to obtain this certification. Rather, the program as a whole will help the city create initiatives to improve sustainability thanks to UGBC resources + support.

Intrigued? Learn more about UGBC’s mission.

What are the levels?

A project earns its LEED certification through points. Points are awarded through 20+ categories which address carbon, energy, water, waste, transportation, materials, health, and indoor environmental quality.

The more points a project earns, the higher its certification level. The four levels are:

Looking for local LEED-certified projects? Search the database to find certified projects, organizations, communities, and people.

Jada Griggs, a Senior Program Manager in the Department of Environmental Quality and Public Works, will lead the charge in Lexington. With guidance from the USGBC, she will —

  • Help set goals for reducing energy and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
  • Develop GHG reduction targets
  • Collect the required data
  • Apply for the certification