LEED is a process established by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) based in Washington, D.C. LEED is  a standard for certification and credentialing of buildings, architects and designers. The LEED process was established by the USGBC in March of 2000 and remains the industry’s leading recognized standard for determining the sustainability of building structures.

When discussing LEED and its benefits, it’s also important to have a common understanding of its associated terms.Consequently, build professionals should difference between LEED certification vs LEED credentials. Distinguishing the two is important. Therefore building owners, architects, and contractors all gain from understanding the meaning of LEED status.

leed certified vs. credentials article

LEED Certified versus Credentials

LEED certification and accreditation mean two different things. The LEED certification program began in March 2000 with the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). LEED establishes ratings for building structures based energy efficiency and environmental sustainability. Certification requires a rigorous process to become certified as a silver, gold or platinum designated LEED structure.

Building designers and architects achieve accreditation as a LEED Green Associate or LEED Associated Professional (AP). AP designations correspond with the five rating categories for the LEED:

  1. Building Design and Construction (BD+C)
  2. Interior Design and Construction (ID+C)
  3. Building Operations and Maintenance (O+M)
  4. Neighborhood Development (ND)
  5. Homes.

The Importance of LEED Certification for Buildings

LEED certified buildings typically operate at a lower cost and efficiency than without certification. The demand for LEED buildings comes from new construction clients and from buyers looking for existing LEED-certified structures. 55% of respondents to a 2014 global study by Nielsen were willing to pay more for products and services offered by companies committed to environmental and societal initiatives.

The willingness to pay more for LEED was greater in Asia-Pacific (64%), Latin America (63%) and the Middle East and Africa (63%). Positive sentiments towards LEED have risen 9, 13 and 10 percent respectively in those regions since 2011. Despite lower commitment to LEED principles in North America and Europe (42% and 40%), purchasing sentiment rose by 7 and 8 percent during that time.

The Advantages of LEED Credentials for Architects and Designers

Contractors, architects and building designers looking to expand into $120-$145 billion green building opportunity have an edge over those who are not LEED Green Associates. Professionals with LEED credentials not stand to benefit in the private construction market in addition to getting more opportunities with the Federal government.

The Federal Energy Management Program of the U.S. Department of Energy found in FY2013 that  government energy consumption fell to its lowest level since 1975. Much of this drop is attributed to LEED standards mandated by an Executive Order issued by the President. As a result, LEED credentials place architects, designers and contractors in an enviable position to take advantage of federal contracting opportunities.