The LEED Certification Process: Guiding Sustainable Design, Construction, and Practices for the New Building

Nov 25, 2014 | Stegner Center

I am sure you have heard the term LEED in relation to the new Law School, but do you really know what it means? If you are not sure, or would like a bit more information, here is a quick overview of the LEED rating system and its benefits for buildings.

LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a third party sustainable building rating system. The US Green Building Council, a national non-profit, created and administers the program. The LEED rating system was created to provide a level playing field for sustainable buildings, and to provide specific metrics to demonstrate sustainable building. LEED has four certification levels, with Certified being the baseline, followed by Silver, Gold and finally, Platinum. A LEED Platinum certified building is a highly sustainable building. Only a few green building rating systems provide for higher levels of sustainability than LEED Platinum, one of which is the Living Building Challenge. For more information on the Living Building Challenge, go to

LEED, which was established in 1999, has greatly evolved over the past 15 years, and now includes a number of rating systems for different project types. There is a LEED for Building Design and Construction, Existing Building Operations and Maintenance, Commercial Interiors, Neighborhood Development and Homes. In addition, the LEED for building design and construction includes iterations for schools, core and shell development buildings, healthcare, data centers, retail, warehouses and hospitality.

The new SJ Quinney College of Law is pursuing LEED certification under the New Construction and Major Renovation rating system.

This LEED rating system is comprised of 6 categories. Each category has one or more pre-requisites or credits that must be achieved to earn LEED certification as well as a number of optional credits. There are 110 points available under the LEED rating system, and a project must earn a minimum of 50 points to achieve LEED certification.

  • Sustainable Sites (1 pre-requisite and 26 possible points)
  • Water Efficiency (1 pre-requisite and 10 possible points)
  • Energy and Atmosphere (3 pre-requisites and 35 possible points)
  • Materials and Resources (1 pre-requisite and 14 possible points)
  • Indoor Environment Quality (2 pre-requisite and 15 possible points)
  • Innovation in Design (0 pre-requisites and 6 possible points)

There are four additional points that can be achieved in the Regional Priority Credits. This is where a project can earn additional points for achieving sustainable thresholds that are considered important for the region in which the building is being constructed.

The new Law School is currently tracking LEED Platinum, pursuing 92 credits. It was vital to the Law School community to have a highly sustainable building that reflects the school’s commitment to the environment and to the future of Utah. To this end, a number of standard and innovative sustainable features have been integrated into the new Law School. These features contribute to and go beyond the LEED certification requirements. For more information on the sustainable elements of the new SJ Quinney College of Law, check out the Green Team Survey and the Survey Results.