The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) began in 1993 with the singular mission of promoting sustainability in the building industry. This passion led to the creation of what has become the world’s most widely respected and utilized green building rating system: Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). Since the system’s inaugural year at the turn of the century, LEED has been part of more than 92,000 projects in over 165 countries and territories across the world—and its impact on the community, the environment, and building-owner costs is nothing short of revolutionary.

Emory-EditedA LEED certification from the USGBC is more than just an environmental stamp of approval—it’s a recognition of exceptional design that will translate into energy and operational cost savings and improved quality of life for building occupants. Research also shows that these quality and cost benefits attract tenants and lead to higher property sale value.

Commissioning plays a big role in achieving the level of design sophistication LEED requires, and as top U.S. commissioning firm with extensive LEED experience, Salas O’Brien has both the training and the track record to guide clients through the complex process.

LEED Basics

In order to pursue LEED certification, building projects must meet certain minimum prerequisites. These requirements lay the foundation, but in order to achieve certification, applicants need to earn credits. There are a lot of different types of credits—a whole library in fact—covering categories like energy and water efficiency, location and transportation, sustainable materials, innovation, and indoor environment.

The USGBC designates specific prerequisites and credits for each of its six project ranking systems. These ranking systems are the overarching framework for certification, covering:

  • Building Design and Construction (BD+C)
  • Interior Design and Construction (ID+C)
  • Building Operations and Maintenance (O+M)
  • Neighborhood Development (ND)
  • Homes
  • Cities and Communities

Once an applicant has determined which ranking system makes sense for their project and met the prerequisites for that distinct category, they can then choose which credits to pursue. During the review process, the credits applicants achieve are translated into points, and the number of points a project earns determines the level of LEED certification it receives:


Fast-track Your Project with Our Credentialed Experts

This framework for certification is just the first layer of knowledge in a complex process, and as the industry’s understanding of sustainability evolves, so do the benchmarks. If you want LEED to be part of your next project, having a top U.S. design and commissioning firm by your side will make all the difference.

Salas O’Brien is proud to employ dozens of team members who have achieved USGBC credentials, and as members of the USGBC community, our teams have around-the-clock access to best practice tools and the most up-to-date resources. Whether it’s through fundamental and enhanced commissioning or targeted consulting, we can make sure that you know what you need to know, when you need to know it to ensure your next project is a success.