With all the greenwashing going on today, wouldn’t it be nice to have definitive “green” standards in architecture – a way to tell exactly which buildings are environmentally sustainable, and which architects practice sustainable design? There is an industry wide system to just this called “LEED” which was developed around the year 2000.

LEED is an acronym for “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design”. Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), LEED is an effort to define a national standard for what consistitutes “green building.”

LEED is a voluntary certification that may be sought by building owners for new or existing commercial, institutional, or high-rise-residential buildings. LEED accredidation is currently being developed for housing and neighborhood development, as well. Different elements of a building’s design, construction and materials earn credits towards a possible total of 69 credits. There are 4 levels of LEED certification based on the amount of credits a building earns:

Platinum – 52 – 69 points
Gold – 39 – 51 points
Silver – 33 – 38 points
Bronze – at least 26 points

The categories and criteria are extensive. The USGBC has all the information you would ever want to read about LEED on its website. It also has a list of LEED certified buildings. Unless I am misunderstanding this, it appears that Seattle has 13 LEED certified buildings, while NYC only has one. Come on New Yorkers, get on the ball!