LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is an ecology-oriented building certification program run under the auspices of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). LEED concentrates its efforts on improving performance across five key areas of environmental and human health: energy efficiency, indoor environmental quality, materials selection, sustainable site development and water savings.
LEED has special rating systems that apply to all kinds of structures, including schools, retail and healthcare facilities. Rating systems are available for new construction and major renovations as well as existing buildings. The program is designed to inform and guide all kinds of professionals who work with structures to create or convert spaces to environmental sustainability, including architects, real estate professionals, facility managers, engineers, interior designers, landscape architects, construction managers, private sector executives and government officials.
On its Web site, the USGBC says that LEED defines "a nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings" and "provides building owners and operators with the tools they need to have an immediate and measurable impact on their buildings' performance." According to the American Institute of Architects, the 69 LEED points that make up the program's specific design points and considerations can be reviewed in a two-hour meeting, during which time the design team and the owner can decide what level of LEED compliance is desirable for their building project.
State and local governments around the United States are adopting LEED for public buildings of all kinds, and LEED initiatives at the US Departments of Agriculture, Defense, Energy and State drive activity at the federal level. In addition, various types of LEED projects are currently underway in over 40 other countries, including Canada, Brazil, India and Mexico.