Prerequisites are required elements, or green building strategies that must be included in any LEED certified project. Credits are optional elements, or strategies that projects can elect to pursue to gain points toward LEED certification. Prerequisites and credits differ for each rating system, and teams choose the best fit for their own respective projects.
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Once a project team chooses a rating system, they use the appropriate credits to guide design and operational decisions.
There are five rating systems that address multiple project types.
Building design and construction applies to buildings that are being newly constructed or going through a major renovation.
Interior design and construction applies to projects that are a complete interior fit-out.
Building operations and maintenance applies to existing buildings that are undergoing improvement work or little to no construction.
Neighborhood development applies to new land development projects or redevelopment projects containing residential uses, nonresidential uses, or a mix. Projects can be at any stage of the development process, from conceptual planning to construction.
Homes applies to single-family homes, low-rise multi-family (one to three stories), or mid-rise multi-family (four to six stories).
Each of the five rating systems is made up of a combination of credit categories.
Within each of the credit categories, there are specific prerequisites projects must satisfy and also a variety of credits projects can pursue to earn points. The number of points the project earns determines its level of LEED certification.
There are four levels of LEED certification, Certified (40 to 49 points), Silver (50 to 59 points), Gold (60 to 79 points), and Platinum (80 or more points).
Integrative process requirements, while not a credit category, promote reaching across disciplines to incorporate diverse team members during the pre-design period.
Location and transportation credits reward projects within relatively dense areas, near diverse uses, with access to a variety of transportation options, or on sites with development constraints.
Materials and resources credits encourage using sustainable building materials and reducing waste. Indoor environmental quality credits promote better indoor air quality and access to daylight and views.
Water efficiency credits promote smarter use of water, inside and out, to reduce potable water consumption.
Energy and atmosphere credits promote better building energy performance through innovative strategies.
Sustainable sites credits encourage strategies that minimize the impact on ecosystems and water resources.
Indoor environmental quality credits promote better indoor air quality and access to daylight and views.
Innovation credits address sustainable building expertise as well as design measures not covered under the five LEED credit categories.
Regional priority credits address regional environmental priorities for buildings in different geographic regions.—L.L.L.