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LEED certification of a building project provides third-party acknowledgement that the building meets green building performance standards and will deliver health and safety benefits to its occupants and added economic value to its owners. Registration and the certification process are fee-based processes, with fees based on the size of the building project and membership in USGBC. For more information visit www.usgbc.org.
Commercial buildings as defined by standard building codes are eligible for certification. Building occupancies may include—but are not limited to—offices, retail and service establishments, institutional buildings (e.g., libraries, schools, museums, churches, etc.), hotels, and residential buildings of four or more habitable stories.
If you are unsure whether the LEED standard applies to your project, the USGBC encourages the project team to tally a potential point total using the LEED Rating System checklist. The project is a viable candidate for LEED certification if it can meet all prerequisites and achieve a minimum of 26 points.
Project registration is the first step in the LEED certification process. The USGBC urges that you register projects in the early phases of project design to maximize the potential for achieving certification.
Upon registration, project contacts receive an orientation letter from USGBC and access to resources that explain and facilitate the formal LEED application process.
The next step is preparation of documentation and calculations to satisfy the LEED prerequisite and credit submittal requirements.
USGBC suggests that you gather information throughout the design and construction phases of the project to streamline the application process. Additionally, the organization suggests that a LEED Accredited Professional act as the project contact and team member responsible for coordinating the LEED process.
In some cases, project teams may encounter difficulties applying a LEED prerequisite or credit to a specific project. USGBC has established a review process for registered project inquiries called credit interpretation requests (CIRs) to ensure that rulings are consistent and available to other projects.
Project teams have a number of online documents and tools available to aid in credit interpretations. For more information please visit www.usgbc.org.
To earn LEED certification, the applicant project must satisfy all of the prerequisites and a minimum number of points to attain a LEED rating level. The certification review process includes the following:
1) Application Submittal.
The project team submits two copies of ALL project application materials, and the corresponding fee (check payable to U.S. Green Building Council), to the LEED Certification Manager. A complete application includes the following:
The printed LEED Letter Template and requested submittals for each prerequisite and credit, separated by tabs (LEED Version 2.1 Letter Template Excel document is required on a CD for Version 2.1 submittals);
LEED registration information, including project contact, project type, project size, number of occupants, date of construction completion, etc.;
an overall project narrative including at least three project highlights;
the LEED Project Checklist/Scorecard indicating projected prerequisites and credits and the total score for the project (If mixed submittal, LEED v2.0 credits are to be noted as such in LEED v2.1 Letter Template Credit Summary or similar format.); and
Drawings and photos (8.5x11 or 11x17) illustrative of the project, including:
Typical floor plan
Typical building section
Typical or primary elevation
Photo or rendering of project
2) LEED Version 2 Technical Reviews .
a) LEED Version 2.0 Review: Documentation submittals for every prerequisite and credit are reviewed for compliance. The inclusion of extraneous documentation is discouraged as this slows the application review process.
Within 30 days of administrative approval, the USGBC issues a Preliminary LEED Review document noting credits earned, pending and denied. The project team has 30 days from the receipt of the Preliminary Review to provide corrections and/or additions as a supplementary submittal to the application.
The USGBC conducts a Final LEED Review of the application within three weeks of receiving the re-submittal and notifies the project contact of the LEED certification.
b) LEED Version 2.1 Review: The LEED Letter Templates and additional submittals for each prerequisite and credit are reviewed for compliance.
Within 30 days of administrative approval, the USGBC issues a Preliminary LEED Review document noting credit achievement anticipated, pending and denied. In addition, up to six prerequisites and/or credits shall be selected for audit. The project team has 30 days from the receipt of the Preliminary Review to provide corrections and/or additional supporting documents (e.g., calculations, cut sheets and other backup) as a supplementary submittal to the application.
The USGBC conducts a Final LEED Review of the application within three weeks of receiving the re-submittal and notifies the project contact of certification status. If two or more audited credits are denied, additional credits may be selected for a second audit and may prompt a Second Preliminary LEED Review prior to a Final LEED Review.
c) LEED Version 2.0 / 2.1 Combination Review: All credits submitted under the LEED v2.0 Rating System shall be reviewed as outlined in the LEED 2.0 Review Process. All credits submitted under the LEED v2.1 Rating System shall be reviewed as outlined in the LEED v2.1 Review Process. If audited credits pass, the timeline is identical for both processes.
3) Award . Upon notification of the LEED certification, the project team has 30 days to accept or appeal the awarded certification. Upon the project’s acceptance, or if it has not appealed the rating within 30 days, the LEED certification is final. The project may then be referred to as a LEED certified building. The USGBC presents the project team with an award letter, certificate and metal LEED plaque indicating the certification level.
4) Appeal . If the project team feels that sufficient grounds exist to appeal a credit denied in the Final LEED Review, it has the option of appeal. The appeal fee is $250 (changing to $500, effective 9/1/04) per credit appealed. A review of these items will occur within 30 days at which time an Appeal LEED Review will be issued to the applicant.