What Does LEED Stand For?

LEED is a green building certification system that is widely acclaimed and widely recognized around the world. The letters LEED stand for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

LEED is an accreditation and certification system that has been implemented in many countries around the world. It is highly regarded and widely recognized as providing a useful framework for the implementation of good practices in the green and sustainable design and construction industry. If you have to spend any time thinking about green building or sustainable construction then it is likely that you will have come across this system. If you are new to the field, you may be wondering what accreditation and certification stand for.

Those who receive LEED accreditation are recognized to be following best practices when it comes to sustainable design, building, and project management throughout all operations and maintenance solutions.

LEED was developed by the US Green Building Council (USGBC). The certification system includes a series of categories within which building design and construction can be scored. There are five specialty categories that cover different areas within the realm of sustainable design and construction.

These different types of LEED accreditation allow those involved in the sustainable design or building projects to show their commitment to the principles of the scheme. Now you know what LEED stands for, let's take a look at the meanings of the abbreviations commonly used for each of the different types of accreditation:

Green Associate

This is the first tier of the LEED scheme. It stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design – Green Associate. Those who wish to do so can undertake an exam to show that they have basic knowledge of green design, construction, and operations. The Green Associate exam involves answering 100 questions over the course of two hours. Questions cover the project process, sustainability core concepts, terminology in green building, and the LEED rating systems.


LEED Stands for Green AssociateFree Practice Exam and Guides

LEED AP (with Specialty)

This is the next tier up in the LEED accreditation system. AP stands for Accredited Professional. This credential shows that the professional within the field has passed a specialty exam on one of these specific areas:

  • LEED AP BD + C - Building Design + Construction
  • LEED AP O + M - Operations + Maintenance
  • LEED AP ID + C - Interior Design + Construction
  • LEED AP ND - Neighborhood Development
  • LEED AP Homes
Free LEED AP Practice Exams What Does LEED Stand For

To qualify to take the specialty exam, someone must have passed the Green Associate exam mentioned above before undertaking the AP exam. During these exams, individuals will be asked a series of 100 questions about their chosen specialty and must demonstrate in-depth knowledge of this area. These exams each contain 100 questions over the course of 2 hours.

LEED Fellow

The highest tier of the LEED accreditation scheme is LEED Fellows. These are highly accomplished individuals who have been nominated by their peers and have ten or more years of experience in professional green building. To be eligible to become a Fellow, someone must have achieved a LEED AP with a specialty credential.

LEED Stands for Fellowship

New Construction and LEED Certification

In addition to the individual accreditation scheme mentioned above, LEED also allows buildings to be rated and certified according to strict environmental and sustainability criteria. The buildings are scored out of 100 based on six categories under Building Design + Construction:

  • Sustainable Sites
  • Water Efficiency
  • Energy and Atmosphere
  • Materials and Resources
  • Indoor Environmental Quality
  • Innovation in Design

Free AP Practice Exams

A building's score will determine the level of certification:

  • Certified: 40-49 points
  • Silver: 50-59 points
  • Gold: 60-79 points
  • Platinum: 80 points and above

LEED certification is granted by the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI). This body handles the third-party verification of a project's compliance with the LEED requirements.

The U.S. Green Building Council provides an online directory of U.S. LEED-certified projects.

Both for those involved in sustainable design and construction and for sustainable buildings, LEED accreditation and certification are regarded as a respected framework. It is a step towards a brighter, greener, and more sustainable future. And so, although it may not be perfect in every regard, but it stands for quality and a level of care for the planet and people that will allow construction to improve its sustainability credentials in the years to come.