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LEED certification for schools

LEED is the world’s premier green building certification system and applies to all buildings at all phases of development (design, construction, operations and maintenance). LEED buildings and communities can be found in over 180 countries around the globe, with around 2.2 million square feet being certified daily. The LEED certification process is designed to inspire project teams to seek innovative solutions that are better for our environment and better for our communities. Find LEED-certified schools near you.

To achieve certification

LEED projects are third-party verified, which proves performance and helps guarantee that each LEED project saves energy, water and other resources. Third-party verification also affirms the integrity of green building commitments by guaranteeing that project teams are delivering on design plans and goals.

To achieve certification, projects choose which credits within the system are right for their project. Teams first decide what is most important for their community and local environment and then apply strategies to earn points across several sustainability topics, including:

Integrative process

Integrative thinking: promotes reaching across disciplines to incorporate diverse team members during the pre-design period


Energy: focuses on reducing energy demand through efficiency, then rewards renewable energy


Water: addresses indoor use, outdoor use, specialized uses and whole-building-level water metering


Materials and waste: encourages using sustainable building materials and reducing waste and includes a special focus on usage, life-cycle and transparency


Location and transportation: includes an emphasis on advanced performance metrics to reward projects within relatively dense areas, near diverse uses, with access to a variety of transportation options, or on sites with development constraints


Sustainable sites: rewards decisions about the environment surrounding the building, and emphasizes the vital relationships among buildings, ecosystems and ecosystem services


Health and human experience: focuses on providing high-quality indoor environments that enhance productivity, decrease absenteeism and improve the building’s value


Innovation: recognizes innovative building features and sustainable building practices and strategies


Regional impacts: encourages project teams to focus on their local environmental priorities

Based on the number of points achieved, a project receives a LEED rating level: Certified, Silver, Gold, or Platinum.

Getting started with LEED

Step 1: Select the rating system that best fits your project. There are two options for structures serving K-12 education:

  1. LEED for Building Design and Construction: Schools
    Construction or renovation of buildings dedicated to K-12 learning
  2. LEED for Operations and Maintenance: Schools
    Day-to-day operation of existing buildings dedicated to K-12 learning

Step 2: Set goals. Woven throughout the newest version of LEED, project teams will find strategies to improve performance, both at the required (prerequisite) level and at the optional (credit) level. The team should set goals that make the most sense for their community and local environment and then match the credits that support those goals. Using the LEED credit library, teams can support their goals by selecting the associated strategies.

Step 3: Equip your project with the right tools. LEED Reference Guides are available for each rating system to help project teams understand each credit and prerequisite. A comprehensive online toolkit also guides teams to key supplemental material for LEED projects like addenda and sample forms.

Arc performance platform

Arc is a free online building performance platform that communicates a school building’s sustainability performance data in one easy-to-read score and graphic: energy, water, waste, transportation, and air quality.

Learn tips for using Arc in schools and explore how the platform can support your school’s maintenance and operations and sharpen your student’s analysis and problem-solving skills with the Building Learners program.