The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) developed Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating systems to assist with market transformation to a more stable, efficient, and environmentally sound approach to design and construction. The LEED products are voluntary, consensus-based systems used as standards for certification and design guides for sustainable construction and operation.

LEED includes a growing portfolio of rating products serving specific market sectors:

  1. New Construction (LEED-NC)
  2. Existing Buildings (LEED-EB)
  3. Commercial Interiors (LEED-CI)
  4. Core & Shell (LEED-CS)
  5. Homes (LEED-H)
  6. Neighborhood Development (LEED-NH)

Note: With its rigorous metrics, LEED rating systems are emerging as a key means to measure sustainable design practice. Other paths include Green Globes and Energy Star.

Levels of LEED - NC

The LEED-NC rating system assigns points to aspects of sustainable performance in six categories:

  • Sustainable Sites
  • Water Efficiency
  • Energy and Atmosphere
  • Materials and Resources
  • Indoor Environmental Quality 
  • Innovation and Design

To achieve LEED certification, project teams must satisfactorily document achievement of all the LEED prerequisites and a minimum number of points. Project teams submit design concepts and plans to the USGBC, often assisted by a LEED Accredited Professional (LEED AP). USGBC assigns an expected rating to the project, and gives a formal rating after the team completes a construction submittal.


LEED-NC certifies buildings to four levels of increasing sustainable performance:

  • Certified (26–32 points)
  • Silver (33–38 points)
  • Gold (39–51 points)
  • Platinum (52–69 points)


  • By reducing the amount of materials and the toxicity of waste materials
    • Precast concrete can be designed to optimize (lessen) the amount of concrete used in a structure or element
    • As one example, the use of carbon-fiber reinforcement or insulation can reduce:
      • Amount of concrete needed in a precast concrete panel
      • Weight of a precast concrete panel
      • Transportation cost of precast concrete panel
      • Amount of energy used to erect a precast concrete panel
    • Precast concrete generates low amounts of waste with low toxicity
      • 2% of the concrete at a precast plant is waste
      • 95% of the waste is used to manufacture new panels
  • By reusing products and containers and repairing what can be reused
    • Precast concrete panels can be reused when buildings are expanded or dismantled
    • Concrete pieces from demolished structures can be reused to protect shorelines
    • Wood or fiberglass formwork used to make precast concrete products is generally reused 40 or more times
    • Concrete and steel have practically unlimited service lives
  • By recycling as much as possible, including buying products with recycled content
    • Industrial wastes (fly ash, slag, and silica fume) can be used as partial replacements for cement
    • Wood and steel forms are recycled when they become worn or obsolete
    • Virtually all reinforcing steel is made from recycled steel
    • Insulation contains partially recycled material
    • Concrete in most urban areas is recycled as fill or road base