What is LEED Certification and Why Should Your Small Business Apply?

what is a LEED Certification

What is a LEED certification? As any business grows, two of its biggest concerns become keeping overhead down and demonstrating some level of social responsibility to customers.

According to research by Reason Digital, some 96 percent of consumers think it’s crucial that companies practice sustainable social and environmental policies that set a good example to communities.

Bearing that in mind, and if you’re interested in killing two birds with one stone, it might be worth checking out applying for a LEED certification.

What is LEED Certification?

what is a LEED Certification

Launched in the 1990s, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is one of the world’s most popular green building certification programs.

Introduced by the non-profit U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), LEED has been designed to encourage businesses, organizations and individual families to adopt sustainable designs. Uptake has been substantial over the past couple of decades, too. At present, around 1.85 million square feet are certified on a daily basis.

The LEED program is comprised of a set of ratings systems that consider the construction, design, operation and maintenance of different types of buildings and homes.

what is a LEED Certification

The system itself is credit-based, and allows projects to earn a set number of points for things like taking environmentally sustainable actions during the construction process and using resources more efficiently.

Based upon the number of points a project receives, the finished building project is then awarded one of four LEED certifications: Certified, Silver, Gold or Platinum.

The program is totally voluntary for businesses, although there are a lot of federal agencies and states in America that now require all government-affiliated buildings to obtain a minimum level of LEED certification.

what is a LEED Certification

In some instances, LEED certification is even incentivized. Tax credits, fee waivers and grants are often made available to organizations based upon the rating they receive.

In order to obtain a LEED certification, companies must register with the USGBC. A registration fee is involved, which is based on a building project’s size and the particular LEED system the project is registering under. You then submit an application to the USGBC and proceed building accordingly.

LEED Certification LevelPoint RequirementPotential Benefits/Incentives
Certified[X-Y Points]Access to federal grants; Recognition by USGBC
Silver[Y-Z Points]Additional tax credits; Waived municipal fees
Gold[Z-A Points]Higher tax credits; Priority in government contracts
Platinum[A-B Points]Maximum tax credits; Top-tier recognition by USGBC

Why Should Your Small Business Apply for LEED Certification?

what is a LEED Certification

On the one hand, obtaining a LEED certification sends a strong message to your consumers and the wider community. It demonstrates your commitment to environmental sustainability — because in order to earn your certification, you must use resources wisely and take steps to maximize the energy efficiency of your property and reduce its carbon footprint. That tells customers you care about the community and want your organization to promote sustainability and be a positive influence within society.

Studies suggest these qualities have become key motivators for customers in terms of making big buying decisions.

But more practically, the processes you’ll need to carry out in order to obtain some form of LEED certification will also benefit your company substantially in terms of achieving financial savings.

Thinking twice prior to and during the construction process could save you loads in project costs, sure. But also by properly insulating your property, maximizing its use of natural light and installing fixtures that reduce water consumption, you can also substantially reduce your company’s overhead.

As a result, taking steps to earn your company a LEED certification usually turns out to be a win-win for most organizations.

That being said, no two businesses are alike, and you shouldn’t jump on the bandwagon without taking steps to assess whether LEED certification is right for you. When in doubt, always do your research.

Key Takeaways

  • Significance of Sustainability: 96% of consumers view companies’ sustainable social and environmental policies as crucial, emphasizing the importance of corporate social responsibility.
  • Overview of LEED: Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a green building certification program established by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) to promote sustainable designs in businesses, organizations, and homes.
  • LEED’s Structure: The LEED program operates on a credit-based system, where projects earn points for environmentally sustainable actions and efficient resource use, leading to four certification levels: Certified, Silver, Gold, or Platinum.
  • Benefits of LEED for Businesses: Acquiring a LEED certification showcases a business’s commitment to environmental sustainability and can lead to substantial financial savings by promoting efficient resource use and energy conservation.
  • Research Before Committing: While LEED certification offers numerous benefits, businesses should evaluate its relevance and benefits for their specific context before proceeding.

Image: USGBC.org/leed

Nash Riggins Nash Riggins is a Staff Writer for Small Business Trends and an American journalist based in central Scotland. Nash covers industry studies, emerging trends and general business developments. His writing background includes The Huffington Post, World Finance and GuruFocus. His website is NashRiggins.com.