Does LEED Certification have Real Value?

The idea behind LEED is great, nobody would argue with lower energy bills or saving landscapes from damage. But is LEED certification itself worthwhile?

By now everyone involved in construction has heard of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. It’s the program overseen by the U.S. Green Building Council to quantify and recognize the environmental friendliness of green buildings in several areas: energy savings, water runoff, waste reduction, and so on.

LEED awards certificates like a kindergarten teacher hands out stickers – silver, gold or platinum, depending on performance. When a building gets a high rating, it can boost a builder’s reputation as a responsible steward of the environment. Since its inception in 1998, LEED certification has been applied to more than 20,000 projects in the USA and dozens of other countries around the world. But do builders really need this sort of pat on the back?

LEED certification is also granted to individual building professionals who pass tests for LEED GA (Green Associate) or AP (Accredited Professional) administered by the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI), the USGBC’s sister organization… and when these acronyms start to pile up, it all seems a little fishy. Builders might ask: Why should we pay hundreds of dollars to be tested in these green building methods and guidelines, when the ones we already know and use are those that are best for our area and most desired by our clients?

It pays to be recognized

Holding a LEED certification is a way to advertise your expertise in green building. Employers who wish to use the latest “green designs” in their buildings must seek professionals who are not only well versed in conservation of energy and water, reducing harmful greenhouse emissions, and maintaining healthy environments for occupants of the building but also those who can lower operating costs, which would increase the value of the building. Architects and contractors who employ LEED-certified professionals are demonstrating their familiarity with these goals and their ability to meet them. It’s proof of commitment to comply with the demands of the future.

This is why you should seek LEED certification. Not to support USGBC or show off your knowledge, but to command the higher fees associated with these high-demand projects. It’s about your earning potential.
The main type of buildings that are eligible to be LEED certified are service establishments, institutional buildings, hotels, retail shops, offices and residential buildings that consist of four or more stories. Because of the expense, single family residential construction has been slower to take up LEED standards. In order to be LEED certified, you have to pay the mandatory registration fee of $900 for USGBC members and $1,200 for non-members. You will need to have LEED-certified professionals on staff; information is available at

There are preparation programs that you can and should participate in to ensure a smooth certification process. Review our website and subscribe to our newsletter for help.

The importance of obtaining LEED certification can never be over-emphasized for those who are interested in rising high in the construction industry of the future. At a time when jobs are scarce yet employers are looking for highly qualified professionals, the difference in having a LEED certificate and not having one can really have some potential.


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