The categories in which companies may earn credits include:
Sustainable Sites: This category discourages development on previously undeveloped land; minimizes a building's impact on ecosystems and waterways; encourages regionally appropriate landscaping; rewards smart transportation choices; controls stormwater runoff; and reduces erosion, light pollution, heat island effect and construction-related pollution.
Water Efficiency: This category encourages smarter use of water, inside and out. Water reduction is typically achieved through more efficient appliances, fixtures and fittings inside and water-wise landscaping outside.
Energy & Atmosphere: According to the U.S. Department of Energy, buildings use 39 percent of the energy and 74 percent of the electricity produced each year in the United States. The Energy&Atmosphere category encourages a variety of energy strategies: Commissioning; energy use monitoring; efficient design and construction; efficient appliances, systems and lighting; the use of renewable and clean sources of energy, energy generation on-site or off-site; and other innovative strategies.
Materials & Resources: This credit category encourages the selection of sustainably grown, harvested, produced and transported products and materials. It promotes the reduction of waste as well as reuse and recycling, and it takes into account the reduction of waste at a product's source.
Indoor Environmental Quality: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that Americans spend about 90 percent of their day indoors, where the air quality can be significantly worse than outside. The Indoor Environmental Quality credit category promotes strategies that can improve indoor air as well as providing access to natural daylight and views and improving acoustics.
Innovation in Design: This credit category provides bonus points for projects that use new and innovative technologies and strategies to improve a building's performance well beyond what is required by other LEED credits or in green building considerations that are not specifically addressed elsewhere in LEED. This credit category also rewards projects for including a LEED Accredited Professional on the team to ensure a holistic, integrated approach to the design and construction phase.
For more information, visit the USGBC Web site at www.usgbc.org.