LEED Certification

LEED Certification and Solar: How Does Renewable Energy Help?

Learn how solar energy systems can contribute to a project's LEED Certification.

LEED Certification and Solar: How Does Renewable Energy Help?

The LEED standards have been updated since the publishing of this post. For the most up-to-date information about LEED Certification and solar, please enroll in a LEED Green Associate Exam Prep course.

Solar projects can provide a major contribution toward LEED certification. The primary LEED category pertaining to solar is the “Energy & Atmosphere” category, specifically EA Credit 2, the “On-Site Renewable Energy” credit. This credit can provide up to 7 possible LEED points. This could represent over 17% of the points required for certification, depending on which level of certification developers are seeking.

The number of LEED points awarded is determined by the percentage of the facility’s energy costs that are offset by on-site renewable energy. Project performance is calculated by expressing the energy produced by renewable systems as a percentage of the building’s annual energy cost and using the table below to determine the number of points achieved.

LEED Points & Percentage of Renewable Energy

Under the LEED v4 rating system, the “On-Site Renewable Energy” credit has been renamed EA Credit 5, the “Renewable Energy Production” credit. There is also an added provision to account for solar gardens and community renewable energy systems in the overall percentage of renewable energy production. The number of maximum LEED points that can be awarded for this credit has changed as well.

The benefits of implementing solar technology are closely aligned with the overarching goals of LEED, encouraging decreased carbon emissions, reduced reliance on traditional energy sources, improved air quality, and better building decisions. Converting just 50 kilowatts of power from gas to solar every month saves 732 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions annually. According to the EPA, you would need to plant 36 trees to remove the 732 pounds of carbon dioxide from the air. Using solar power can have a huge impact on offsetting atmospheric carbon dioxide and can help pave the way to a more environmentally responsible future.

leed certified solar home

Photo credit: xedos4 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Solar PV arrays aren’t just for homes. PV arrays can now be installed on virtually any building structure, including industrial companies, schools, municipal and state government agencies, agricultural lands, and office buildings. No matter the situation, implementing solar energy brings a building one step closer to becoming LEED-certified.

We are excited to see the increased participation in LEED by corporations across the U.S., and we believe that solar PV projects can and should be a critical component of any LEED project.

So why not consider solar for your next building project? Implementing solar technology can help you gain points toward USGBC LEED certification, generate clean energy, and significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions. Visit our Solar PV Associate, Solar PV Installer, or Solar Sales pages to learn more about how you can become a part of this emerging field!

About Lesley Baulding

Lesley has been passionately advocating for and working with green building and renewable energy since 2009. She has experience with LEED certification, home energy auditing, blower door testing, solar energy, and more. She holds many certifications, including LEED Green Associate and NABCEP Certification. Her work has won numerous awards over the past decade.