If you’ve been reading up on environmentally friendly homes and living green, you might have run into the abbreviations USGBC and LEED and wondered what they meant. USGBC stands for the U.S. Green Building Council, which is a private 501(c)3, membership-based non-profit organization committed to promoting sustainability in building design, construction, and operation. They are best known for developing the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating systems for green buildings and homes.

You might have also heard of the USGBC thanks to its annual Greenbuild International Conference and Expo. It’s the world’s largest conference dedicated to all things related to green building and creating a sustainable future.

Another fun fact: the USGBC was one of eight national councils that came together to help create the World Green Building Council, or WorldGBC. They’re serious about creating environmentally friendly homes and buildings for everyone.

LEED-Certifications Show a Strong Commitment to Green Building

Thanks to the USGBC’s partnership with Green Business Certification Inc., USGBC offers a variety of LEED credentials that professionals can earn to show their expertise in the field of green building. Projects completed with a LEED-certified professional on staff are awarded extra certification points to show that they were built with staying green and protecting the environment in mind.

The LEED Green Building Rating System is a program that provides third-party verification of green buildings and covers homes, neighborhoods, schools, as well as a variety of commercial buildings. Depending on how well the building in question scores, it will receive one of four ratings:

Certified: 40-49 points
Silver: 50-59 points
Gold: 60-79 points
Platinum: 80+ points

The goal of this certification system is to allocate points based on the potential environmental impacts and human benefits of a building’s green elements. The better the rating, the more environmentally friendly that home or building is.

Advocating for Change on a National Level

The USGBC is committed to creating a sustainable future through green building practices. In order to reach that goal, they have advocated for change on a national level.

In 2013, the USGBC helped to organize and support the Better Buildings Act of 2014 (H.R. 2126; 113th Congress). The goal of the bill was to amend federal law to improve the energy efficiency of commercial office buildings and create the “Tenant Star” program—similar to the Energy Star program.

The USGBC also supported the Streamlining Energy Efficiency for Schools Act of 2014 (H.R. 4092; 113th Congress). It would require the U.S. Department of Energy to create and utilize a system for sharing information on federal programs, incentives, and mechanisms for financing energy-efficient retrofits and upgrades at schools across the nation.

Is Your Green Home LEED Certified?

Whether you’re living in a home with a LEED certification or shopping for one, you can be confident that it was built by an environmentally conscious builder. Living in a green home is a great way to contribute toward a sustainable future, so keep your eyes peeled for builders and homes that are involved with the USGBC and striving to meet that same goal.