Determining Which LEED Rating System to Use for Your Next Project

Posted on Sep 27, 2011 by Theresa Lehman

With more and more owners considering seeking LEED certification on their upcoming construction projects, there are numerous things to consider. First of all, it is vital to have an experienced LEED project administrator involved in the process. His or her expertise is even more important when your project qualifies for more than one LEED rating system.

At the very minimum, your LEED project administrator should be aware of the differences between the individual LEED rating systems, especially their respective prerequisites.

For example, LEED for Schools has a prerequisite regarding classroom and core learning space acoustics while LEED for New Construction does not. It can be a very costly mistake if acoustical calculations are not done during the design phase and the “correct” acoustical materials are not specified and/or purchased, requiring the designer to delay acoustical calculations until the end of the design phase or beginning of the construction phase.

LEED project administrators should also be aware of supplemental guidelines. These can also impact which rating system is best suited for a project.

Information about the project is also important. Miron’s LEED project administrators rely on specific information to make these decisions, including:

  • Whether it is a single building or multiple buildings
  • The scope of the project and the scope of its construction
  • Who the owner is and the intentions to own, lease or manage the facility upon completion
  • The intended use of the building
  • Whether or not the project is part of a campus
  • If the building has any prior LEED certifications
  • Will it be located in a LEED for Neighborhood Development project

It is not unusual for a project to qualify for more than one LEED rating system. For example, the college/university dormitory projects that Miron works on qualify for both LEED for Homes and LEED for New Construction. The higher education academic buildings qualify for LEED for New Construction and LEED for Schools.

Health care projects can also be tricky. You must determine if these are going to be licensed facilities as this will determine if LEED for Health Care must be used or if the building can earn LEED certification under LEED for New Construction. This is a complex decision because there are significant cost differences.

Miron’s LEED project administrators are experts in the field and are able and certainly willing to help you decide what the most appropriate LEED rating system is for your particular construction project.

(Image courtesy of USGBC)

About Theresa Lehman

Dedicating her entire career to sustainable practice, Theresa has worked on more than 70 projects seeking LEED® certification utilizing the LEED®-NC, LEED®-CI, LEED®-CS, LEED®-EBOM, and LEED® for Schools green building rating systems. She has successfully certified projects that have earned LEED® certification at all four award levels including: Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum. Her portfolio of LEED® projects includes many “Wisconsin firsts” such as the first State of Wisconsin LEED® certified project, the first healthcare facility, the first LEED®-EBOM Schools, the first LEED® for Schools project and the first zero-net energy / carbon neutral project–the Aldo Leopold Legacy Center–the “greenest building on the planet” according to Rick Fedrizzi, former President, CEO & Founding Chair, U.S. Green Building Council.

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