Shields Library

LEED Certification Background

Background on LEED Certification

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is the most established green building rating system and was first implemented by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) in 1998. Through LEED, the USGBC describes its mission: 

“Our mission is to transform the way buildings and communities are designed, built and operated, enabling an environmentally and socially responsible, healthy, and prosperous environment that improves the quality of life.” 


A LEED Certification presents many benefits for both building owners, building occupants, and the community:

  • healthier and happier building occupants,
  • reduced carbon emissions,
  • waste reduction, and
  • higher return on investment for building owners.

The latest version of the LEED rating system (LEED v4.1, established in 2019) recognizes projects for innovations in energy efficiency, water conservation, site selection, material selection, daylighting, and waste reduction. Buildings are also awarded points based on green-building achievements in such categories, and are rated as Certified, Silver, Gold, or Platinum (the highest honor) based on the number of points earned.

Below are some statistics detailing the economic benefits and positive environmental impacts associated with LEED projects: 

Economic Benefits:
$1.2 billion energy savings  
$149.5 million water savings  
$54.2 million waste savings  
20% decrease in maintenance costs  
10% increase in building value  
Environmental Impacts:
34% lower CO2 emissions  
25% less energy consumed  
11% less water consumed  
80 million tons of waste diverted from landfills  
Building Categories

LEED Certification is not only for new buildings. LEED also offers certifications across several categories:

  • Building design & construction
  • Interior design & construction
  • Operations & maintenance
  • Residential/homes
  • Cities and communities/neighborhood developments

Several departments at UC Davis pursue LEED certifications for new construction and renovations, student housing and dining facilities, and existing campus buildings. The Facilities Management Green Buildings team focuses on certifying existing buildings to make the campus as a whole more energy-efficient and sustainable.

Green Buildings @ UC Davis

Kelsey Haydon, Alex Malm, Simi Kaur, and Yuyou Chen with the LEED Platinum Plaque awarded to Rifle Range
Green Buildings Manager Alex Malm, with Green Building Interns Kelsey Haydon, Simi Kaur, & Yuyou Chen celebrating a LEED Platinum Plaque for the UCD Rifle Range.

UC Davis is proud to present over 30 LEED-certified buildings which are helping contribute to our carbon neutrality goals by 2025. Check out our sustainability page to see the complete list and energy savings of LEED Certified Buildings at UC Davis and our Sacramento campus. Also check out our buildings page to see currently ongoing Green Buildings projects and learn more about how UC Davis Green Buildings meet UC-wide sustainability goals.