LEED® v4 Rating System Selection Guidance


Building
Design and
Construction

Interior
Design and
Construction

Building
Operations and
Maintenance

Neighbourhood
Development



To use the guidance below:

  1. Identify an appropriate rating system
  2. Determine the best adaptation

Please pay close attention to this guidance. If you select a rating system that does not apply, the USGBC may request that you change your project's rating system. Contact the CaGBC if you are unclear on which rating system you should use.

Don't forget, your very first step is to make sure that LEED will work for your project no matter what rating system you choose. For more information, see the LEED v4 Minimum Program Requirements.

Choosing between rating systems

The following 40/60 rule provides guidance for making a decision when several rating systems appear to be appropriate for a project. To use this rule, first assign a rating system to each square foot or square meter of the building, and then choose the most appropriate rating system based on the resulting percentages.

The entire gross floor area of a LEED project must be certified under a single rating system and is subject to all prerequisites and attempted credits in that rating system, regardless of mixed construction or space usage type.

  • If a rating system is appropriate for less than 40% of the gross floor area of a LEED project building or space, then that rating system should not be used.
  • If a rating system is appropriate for more than 60% of the gross floor area of a LEED project building or space, then that rating system should be used.
  • If an appropriate rating system falls between 40% and 60% of the gross floor area, project teams must independently assess their situation and decide which rating system is most applicable.

Rating System Descriptions


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Building Design and Construction


Buildings that are new construction or major renovation. At least 60% of the project’s gross floor area must be complete by the time of certification (except for LEED BD+C: Core and Shell). Must include the entire building’s gross floor area in the project.

  • LEED BD+C: New Construction and Major Renovation
    New construction or major renovation of buildings that do not primarily serve K-12 educational, retail, data centers, warehouses and distribution centers, hospitality, or healthcare uses. High-rise residential buildings 4 stories or more can use New Construction or Multifamily Midrise.

  • LEED BD+C: Core and Shell Development
    Buildings that are new construction or major renovation for the exterior shell and core mechanical, electrical, and plumbing units, but not a complete interior fit-out. LEED BD+C: Core and Shell is the appropriate rating system to use if more than 40% of the gross floor area is incomplete at the time of certification.

  • LEED BD+C: Schools
    Buildings made up of core and ancillary learning spaces on K-12 school grounds. LEED BD+C: Schools may optionally be used for higher education and non-academic buildings on school campuses.

  • LEED BD+C: Retail
    Buildings used to conduct the retail sale of consumer product goods. Includes both direct customer service areas (showroom) and preparation or storage areas that support customer service.

  • LEED BD+C: Data Centers
    Buildings specifically designed and equipped to meet the needs of high density computing equipment such as server racks, used for data storage and processing. LEED BD+C: Data Centers only addresses whole building data centers (greater than 60%).

  • LEED BD+C: Warehouses and Distribution Centers
    Buildings used to store goods, manufactured products, merchandise, raw materials, or personal belongings, such as self-storage.

  • LEED BD+C: Hospitality
    Buildings dedicated to hotels, motels, inns, or other businesses within the service industry that provide transitional or short-term lodging with or without food.

  • LEED BD+C: Healthcare
    Hospitals that operate twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week and provide inpatient medical treatment, including acute and long-term care.

  • LEED BD+C: Homes and Multifamily Lowrise
    Single-family homes and multi-family residential buildings of 1 to 3 stories. Projects 3 to 5 stories may choose the Homes rating system that corresponds to the ENERGY STAR program in which they are participating.

  • LEED BD+C: Multifamily Midrise
    Multi-family residential buildings of 4 or more occupiable stories above grade. The building must have 50% or more residential space. These buildings may also use LEED BD+C: New Construction.

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Interior Design and Construction


Interior spaces that are a complete interior fit-out. In addition, at least 60% of the project’s gross floor area must be complete by the time of certification.

  • LEED ID+C: Commercial Interiors
    Interior spaces dedicated to functions other than retail or hospitality.

  • LEED ID+C: Retail
    Interior spaces used to conduct the retail sale of consumer product goods. Includes both direct customer service areas (showroom) and preparation or storage areas that support customer service.

  • LEED ID+C: Hospitality
    Interior spaces dedicated to hotels, motels, inns, or other businesses within the service industry that provide transitional or short-term lodging with or without food.

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Building Operations and Maintenance


Buildings that are fully operational and occupied for at least one year. The project may be undergoing improvement work or little to no construction. Must include the entire building’s gross floor area in the project.

  • LEED O+M: Existing Buildings
    Existing buildings that do not primarily serve K-12 educational, retail, data centers, warehouses and distribution centers, or hospitality uses.

  • LEED O+M: Retail
    Existing buildings used to conduct the retail sale of consumer product goods. Includes both direct customer service areas (showroom) and preparation or storage areas that support customer service.

  • LEED O+M: Schools
    Existing buildings made up of core and ancillary learning spaces on K-12 school grounds. May also be used for higher education and non-academic buildings on school campuses.

  • LEED O+M: Hospitality
    Existing buildings dedicated to hotels, motels, inns, or other businesses within the service industry that provide transitional or short-term lodging with or without food.

  • LEED O+M: Data Centers
    Existing buildings specifically designed and equipped to meet the needs of high density computing equipment such as server racks, used for data storage and processing. LEED O+M: Data Centers only addresses whole building data centers.

  • LEED O+M: Warehouses and Distribution Centers
    Existing buildings used to store goods, manufactured products, merchandise, raw materials, or personal belongings (such as self-storage).

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Neighbourhood Development


New land development projects or redevelopment projects containing residential uses, nonresidential uses, or a mix. Projects may be at any stage of the development process, from conceptual planning through construction. It is recommended that at least 50% of total building floor area be new construction or major renovation. Buildings within the project and features in the public realm are evaluated.

  • LEED ND: Plan
    Projects in conceptual planning or master planning phases, or under construction.

  • LEED ND: Built Project
    Completed development projects.

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