LEED Certification

Laws That Require LEED Certified Building Practices

LEED is a voluntary rating system, just as the USGBC is an agency independent of the federal government.

Laws That Require LEED Certified Building Practices

Federal initiatives are underway to require LEED certification of buildings. Most laws that require LEED are currently at the local level.

Please note that this post is from 2009. We’ve published a 2015 update to this post. Please see the new article about Cities Requiring or Supporting LEED.

According to the Houston Advanced Research Center, the following cities have implemented local laws that LEED certification:

  1. Arlington, MA: In May 2003, the town of Arlington voted in favor of requiring all new buildings and major renovation projects to achieve a LEED Silver rating at a minimum. The state approved the measure to be included into the Town Bylaw.
  2. Atlanta, GA: The city passed Ordinance #03-0-1693 in December 2003 requiring all city-funded projects over 5,000 square feet or costing $2 million to meet a LEED Silver rating level. Projects exempt from this policy are required to complete a LEED checklist to assess any sustainable design techniques.
  3. Austin, TX: LEED certification is required of all public projects larger than 5,000 gross square feet.
  4. Berkeley, CA: In 2004, municipal buildings larger than 5,000 square feet were required to be LEED certified. In 2006 and beyond, these buildings must achieve LEED Silver certification.
  5. Boston, MA: The city established LEED Silver as the goal for all city-owned projects.
  6. Boulder, CO: All new or significantly renovated city facilities are built to a LEED Silver standard. Also considering requiring certification of commercial projects or developing a LEED-based incentive program.
  7. Bowie, MD: The city council passed Resolution #R-15-03 requiring all municipal projects to follow green building criteria and to use LEED guidelines on a project by project basis.
  8. Calgary, AB: The city’s Sustainable Building Policy requires new or significant renovations larger than 500 square meters to achieve LEED Silver certification or higher.
  9. Chicago, IL: All new city-funded construction and major renovation projects will earn LEED Silver certification at minimum.
  10. Chula Vista, CA: Offers priority permit processing to residential builders and developers who participate in the program.
  11. Dallas, TX: The City of Dallas issued a resolution requiring all city buildings larger than 10,000 square feet to have at least LEED Silver certification. The city is exploring ways to encourage LEED buildings in the private sector.
  12. Eugene, OR: The city of Eugene uses LEED NC as a guideline for all new city-funded construction. Additionally, the city is using LEED EB as an assessment tool and looking to certify certain buildings that have already gone through building retrofits. Buildings apply as many EB prerequisites and credits as possible whether or not they achieve EB certification.
  13. Frisco, TX: The City of Frisco passed Ordinance #04-05-41 to be in effect for one year beginning September 1, 2004 that requires all non-single-family residential developments over 10,000 ft2 to submit a LEED checklist to the city. The checklist must be filled out by a LEED Accredited Professional, must document which points can and cannot be earned, and must include an estimated cost for each point. The city passed Ordinance #01-05-39 on May 1, 2001 creating a Green Building Program for all single-family residential buildings.
  14. Houston, TX: All city-owned buildings and facilities larger than 10,000 square feet must use LEED “to the greatest extent practical and reasonable,” with a target of LEED Silver.
  15. Kansas City, MO: All new city buildings must be designed to meet LEED Silver (at minimum). Also, the city is participating in a LEED-EB pilot program for the city hall.
  16. Los Angeles CA – On April 19, 2002, the Los Angeles City Council voted in favor of requiring LEED certification of all public works construction projects 7,500 gsf or larger. As of July 2003, all building projects funded by the city of LA are required to be LEED certified. Contact: Deborah Weintraub, City Architect; (213) 847-6370. In March 2002, LEED certification of new construction projects was approved as part of the $1.6 billion bond proposition funding building projects on the nine campuses of the LA Community College District.
  17. New York, NY – New York, NY developed its own comprehensive guidelines. High Performance Building Guidelines.
  18. Omaha, NE – All new Metropolitan Community College construction projects and sites must meet the minimum level of LEED certification.
  19. Phoenix, AZ – The City of Phoenix is emphasizing green building design and pursuit of LEED certification at various levels for new buildings.
  20. Pleasanton, CA – The City Council adopted Ordinance #1873 in December 2002 requiring all commercial construction projects over 20,000 square feet to follow guidelines to meet a LEED “Certified” rating. Formal certification with USGBC is encouraged but not required.
  21. Portland, OR – Portland Aims for Gold with Revised Green Building Policy Portland, Oregon, has updated its four-year-old Green Building Policy and now requires all municipal buildings to obtain LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The Gold certification is the second-highest rating under the USGBC LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification system. Portland and Scottsdale, Arizona, are now the only two U.S. cities that require municipal buildings to acquire LEED Gold certification. The new policy also requires new city-funded private sector buildings and major retrofits of city-owned buildings to achieve LEED Silver certification, and provides for city support of new private building projects to help them achieve LEED Silver certification.
  22. San Diego, CA – San Diego Mayor Dick Murphy included requiring LEED Silver certification of all municipal projects among his 10 goals for the year in his 2002 State of the City Address. The city has subsequently adopted LEED for all public projects. The city has also developed a sustainable building expedite program that uses LEED criteria and provides significant plan review and construction incentives.
  23. San Francisco, CA – On May 18, 2004, the Board of Supervisors of the City and County of San Francisco, CA adopted an ordinance (Chapter 7 of the Environment Code) requiring all municipal new construction, additions and major renovation projects over 5000 square feet starting conceptual design on or after September 18 to achieve a LEED Silver certification by the USGBC. It also requires that a LEED Accredited Professional be a member of each design team and achievement of the LEED Additional Commissioning Credit for all projects.
  24. San Jose, CA – San José requires LEED certification of all municipal projects over 10,000 sf.
  25. Santa Monica, CA – All new city projects must achieve LEED Silver certification as per an ordinance.
  26. Scottsdale, AZ: In late March, the city passed Resolution 6644 that requires all new public buildings to be certified as LEED Gold.
  27. Seattle, WA: LEED Silver certification is required of all city-owned projects larger than 5,000 gross square feet.
  28. Vancouver, BC – On July 8, 2004, The City of Vancouver officially announced the adoption of green building standards – LEED for British Columbia (LEEDBC) for all new civic buildings greater than 500 square meters. New public buildings must achieve the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification. The City also mandated specific energy points in the LEED Rating System to ensure a 30% energy reduction in all new civic buildings.

About Lesley Cowie

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.