You’re on your way to impacting and improving the performance of your city or community. This guide will lead you through the process.
LEED for Cities and LEED for Communities certifications involve three main steps:
If you need assistance at any time, please contact gbci.org/contact.
Registration is an important step in the LEED certification process, signifying your intent to pursue LEED certification.
Before you begin, you’ll want to make sure that your project is appropriate for LEED for Cities and LEED for Communities. Your project should:
Next up: select the appropriate LEED rating system for your project. The content in this guide applies to the LEED for Cities and LEED for Communities rating systems.
A project using LEED for Cities should register the entire city; a sub-section of a city can use LEED for Communities.
If you’re not sure whether your project is appropriate for LEED for Cities or LEED for Communities, please contact gbci.org/contact.
Note: There are separate guides for the LEED Commercial, Homes, Neighborhood Development rating systems, and Cities and Communities.
To get started with your city or community project register your project in LEED Online, submit payment and sign the service agreement. Once you’ve completed these steps, your project will be accessible in LEED Online.
From here, you can assemble your project team and the data collection process begins!
Individuals on your project team will be called on to perform certain roles throughout the LEED certification process. Here’s a rundown of who’s who so you can select your team wisely:
Precertification Review (optional)
You may choose to pursue precertification ahead of full certification if you’d like additional support and formal recognition up-front. Precertification involves sharing key project details and planning initiatives and preparing for performance tracking. Precertification sets you up for success in collecting performance data.
To pursue precertification ahead of full certification, you’ll submit part of your application up-front (the precertification actions), and will receive two rounds of review. You need to meet all Prerequisites and commit to meet minimum credit requirements for meeting LEED certification levels (certified, silver, gold or platinum).
Now comes the fun part: you’re ready to collect and submit the appropriate documentation.
Plan and Design projects:
Working with your project team, you will identify LEED credits to pursue and assign them to project team members. Your team will then collect information, perform calculations and analysis, and prepare documentation demonstrating your achievement of the prerequisites and your selected credits.
Working with your project team, you will enter information into Arc to fulfill each of the required actions, including any supporting documents. You will also track data and enter it into the Arc platform. As you add data to Arc, you will receive a performance score (for relevant prerequisites and credits scored using Arc platform).
You will submit documentation for the attempted credits and prerequisites.
Make sure to perform a rigorous quality check of all of your recorded data before submitting for review. We suggest that you open each prerequisite and credit to check that you have included all required information, and open each file to verify that you have submitted the correct document.
After paying the certification fee, your project will undergo review using the process described above in which GBCI checks your application for completeness and reviews your application for technical accuracy.
Part 1: Preliminary Review
Part 2: Final Review (optional)
Part 3: Supplemental (Appeal) Review (optional)
Contesting a Review Ruling
If resolution of a technical issue related to a review ruling has not been achieved via GBCI’s customer support channels and discussion with GBCI reviewers (www.gbci.org/contact), GBCI has put in-place a Review Challenge Policy whereby a project team may challenge the accuracy of a review decision regarding the sufficiency of already submitted materials. Please refer to the GBCI Review Challenge Policy which outlines the process for doing so.
After successful review by GBCI, projects with a confirmed minimum performance score of 40 meet the requirements for certification. If you’ve met the requirements for certification, congratulations from all of us here at USGBC and GBCI!
While all LEED-certified projects are a cut above the rest, projects are assigned one of four levels of certification to acknowledge the degree of achievement. The performance score your project earns determines the level of LEED certification that you will receive.
Once you’ve earned certification, it’s likely that you’ll want to tell the world – and we do too! USGBC will reach out to you directly to showcase your achievement to the world and underscore your sustainability efforts.
Your work with LEED is something to be celebrated – and communicated to the world at large. Achieving LEED certification gives you the opportunity to share your city/community's plans, strategies and insights, and play a pivotal role in educating other project teams.
How is USGBC utilizing your project data?
We use your project data for the greater good: to educate and provide resources for LEED project teams and others around the world, showcase your strategies, and share the size and power of the green building movement.
LEED-registered and certified projects are, by default, considered “public” projects, and thereby included in USGBC’s public LEED project directory. A listing in this directory allows the general public and members of the media to look up your project listing and its related details.
Here’s a full list of the data and project elements that may be listed in the project directory:
Project directory information
All “public” projects also benefit from publicity opportunities: we may utilize your project data to create case studies highlighting your project’s features, reference your project on our website or to the media, or create other derivative works.
Information that may be used for articles, project profiles, other features:
You are free to opt-out of the LEED project directory and publicity opportunities as a “private project” at the time of registration: specific instructions on how to do so are available in LEED Online. All private projects that earn certification will be prompted once more to transition to public status (we can’t help ourselves, we love sharing good news!). You will need to re-confirm your “private” status at that time, if you wish to retain it.
Remember, projects that retain their “private” (or confidential) status after certification, may not be marketed or represented as LEED certified to the general public. Please carefully review of the LEED Trademark Policy and Branding Guidelines for more information.
Revocation of LEED Certification
In rare situations, LEED certification may be revoked. We’ve created the GBCI Certification Challenge Policy to ensure that all LEED project submittals and subsequent reviews by GBCI team members are done so with integrity, accuracy and truthfulness. A certification challenge may be initiated by GBCI or by any third party within 18 months of a project’s certification. The certification challenge may include additional review of project documentation, the review of supplemental information, and/or a site visit. In line with the policy, you’ll need to retain all project documentation related to your certification, and precertification, for two years after receiving certification, to ensure that this information is available in case of a challenge.
Maintaining LEED Certification
The journey doesn’t end with your project’s initial certification. Achieving LEED certification means that your project meets the high standards of LEED across its entire lifespan, not just at a single point in time.
Projects can track and record performance data for the required metrics in Arc on an ongoing basis, with the performance score updating along the way.