Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a sustainability certification rating system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The USGBC
is a private, membership-based non-profit organization that
promotes sustainability in how buildings are designed, built and
operated. The USGBC partners with the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI), offering a suite of LEED professional
credentials that identify expertise in the field of green building.
Those involved in the development of sustainable research labs
and accredited by the USGBC often have the LEED AP (
Accredited Professional) added to their title.
Developed in 2000, LEED has become the nationally
accepted benchmark tool for the design, construction and
operation of high-performance sustainable buildings. The
rating system (see attached table) has a maximum of 100
base points with an additional six possible for Innovation in
Design and four in Regional Priority areas. There are four
ratings possible with 40 to 49 points yielding a Certified
Award, 50 to 59 getting a Silver Certificate, 60 to 79 getting
a Gold Certificate and anything over 79 getting a Platinum
Certificate. Upgraded several times since its inception, the
current version is LEED v4, which was released on November 20, 2013, and supersedes LEED 2009. The new LEED
v4 release adds new categories that weren’t included or
identified in the 2009 release. Specifically, new categories in
v4 include climate change, human health, water resources,
biodiversity, green economy, community and natural resources. The first LEED v4 project certification announced on
November 20, 2013, was a LEED v4 Gold for the Haworth
Beijing Organic Showroom, located in Beijing, China.
Within each of the seven LEED credit categories, applicants must satisfy that their projects satisfy particular
prerequisites and earn points. The last two categories address
sustainable building expertise as well as design measures not
covered under the five environmental categories.
LEED certification is applicable across a wide range of buildings including new construction and major renovations, existing
buildings, commercial interiors, core and shell and even schools
and private residences. There are currently over 4. 5 billion ft2 of
construction space involved with the LEED system, with more
than 1.5 billion ft2 LEED certified to more than 7,000 projects
in the U.S. and 30 countries. Many U.S. federal agencies and
state and local governments now require LEED certification.
The Location and Transportation category examines the
programs developed to minimize the energy use and pol-
lution created by personal vehicles, while also minimizing
the building’s impact on the surrounding neighborhood/
The Sustainable Sites design criteria minimizes a research
lab’s impact of ecosystems and waterways, while encouraging
regionally appropriate landscaping and water management.
The Water Efficiency category concerns the smart use and re-
duction of potable water requirements through more efficient
fixtures and appliances and smarter landscaping efforts.
The large point-value ( 33 points) Energy and Atmosphere
category involves energy strategies for commissioning; energy
use monitoring; efficient design and construction; efficient
appliances, systems and lighting; use of renewable and clean
energy sources and other innovative strategies.
The Materials and Resources category involves the selection of sustainably grown, harvested, produced and transported products and materials. It promotes the reduction of
waste, while promoting reuse and recycling efforts.
The Indoor Environmental Quality category establishes the
minimum indoor air quality (IAQ) requirements to enhance
indoor air quality in research labs, thus contributing to the comfort and well-being of the researcher occupants. This particular
category relies on ventilation systems meeting or exceeding the
minimum outdoor air ventilation rates as described in the appropriate ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigeration
and Air-conditioning Engineers) standard.
Other Rating Systems
There are other resources also available for rating the
research lab design and construction process. The Buildings
Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method
Validation of "Green Lab"
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80
Energy Cost Reduction
Energy Benchmarking 42%
Updated rating system includes broader focus on sustainable technologies.