leed_gold_plaqueThe buzz about Pittsburgh’s green scene often includes information about LEED certified buildings. Understanding LEED can be an important step towards appreciating Pittsburgh’s many green achievements.

What is LEED?

LEED certification is recognized as the global standard for achievement in green building. LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a green building rating system developed by the US Green Building Council. LEED certification is available for different building types (e.g., new construction, existing buildings, schools, homes), and the rating systems are designed to address the function and occupants of each building type.

There are four levels of LEED certification that can be earned by a project, based on the amount of points/credits received on a 0-100 ratings scale: Certified (most basic level, 40-49), Silver (50-59), Gold (60-79), and Platinum (greenest rating possible, 80+).

Pittsburgh businesses such as Building Performance Architecture and Moshier Studios offer green building consulting services and can help navigate clients through the LEED process. Organizations like the Green Building Alliance boast experts and planning resources.

What are the benefits of being LEED certified?

A LEED certified building may not look that different when compared to other buildings, but its benefits cannot be overlooked. Green buildings help conserve resources and generally offer cost savings in terms of maintenance and operations. Green buildings can also promote healthier indoor air quality, and studies have shown them to promote productivity.

While a building can be green without being LEED certified, LEED certified buildings bring credibility. The LEED certification process, which includes rigorous third-party verification, offers compelling proof that a building is performing as designed. This can increase a property’s value and raise rent opportunities higher than in conventional buildings.

Why are LEED buildings important in Pittsburgh?

Pittsburgh is a leader in the green building industry and home to a number of green ‘firsts’, including:

  • First Green NHL arena – Consol Energy Center
  • First Green Convention Center – David L. Lawrence Convention Center
  • First Green Radio Station – WYEP Radio Center
  • First Green Food Bank – Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank
  • First Green Children’s Museum – Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh
  • First Green Financial Institution – PNC Firstside Center

Area corporations like ALCOA, PNC, and BNY Mellon help promote green buildings and bring recognition to Pittsburgh. LEED certified buildings serve as a reminder that our region is growing stronger and smarter.