Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

What makes a building ‘green’?

What is “green”: A new or renovated building is environmentally responsible, or “green”, if it achieves distinction under a program known as LEED. An acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, LEED is a system created by the U.S. Green Building Council, a group of 6,300 corporations, governmental agencies and nonprofits that was founded in 1993.

How LEED works:
LEED is a rating system that measures a building’s “green” qualities in six categories: sustainable sites; water savings; energy efficiency; materials selection; indoor environmental quality; and innovation and design. Points in each category are given for meeting goals such as reducing water use, using recycled materials, utilizing natural light, and implementing efficient heating, cooling and ventilation systems.

If the point total is high enough, a designation is earned. These are: Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum.

Who is eligible: LEED standards can apply to new construction, major renovations or the operation of existing buildings. Specific criteria apply to on-campus projects.

More information: Go to or call 202-828-7422.

This article originally appeared in The Source, January 2007.

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