Several programs have a set of standard practices, but one of the most widely respected is the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED® Green Building Rating System.LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a voluntary, national rating system based on consensus. According to the U.S. Green Building Council:”LEED® is a practical rating tool for green building design and construction that provides immediate and measurable results for building owners and occupants.”Those measurable results include key benefits, such as lower utility costs, better health and productivity, long-term economic returns and lower impact on the environment.LEED® has five key elements they look at before certifying a building as up-to-standard, as a way to ensure that the above benefits (and others) continue. Each element has in depth standards and codes, but here is a brief outline of each:1. Sustainable Sites – The chosen site and design should incorporate a control plan for sediment and erosion. In addition, if it’s a new building you might consider which way you build it in relation to sunlight, wind, etc.2. Water Efficiency – This category deals with water use reduction and wastewater technologies, such as using rainwater for irrigation or high efficiency plumbing fixtures.3. Energy and Atmosphere – Energy efficiency, ozone protection and renewable energy all fall under this category. A good example of this is a 10% reduction in energy usage for a new building.4. Materials and Resources – This category deals with waste reduction in regards to reused materials and recycling. Using recycled construction materials is a good example, and one of the prerequisites is that the building has a storage area to hold the occupants’ recyclable materials.5. Indoor Environmental Quality – The main aim of this category is reducing indoor pollutants and improving comfort and quality of the air and temperature. As a prerequisite, the design has to meet specific ANSI/ASHRAE standards.These five elements are the basics needed for LEED® green certification, but they all add up to the same thing: sustainable, renewable, energy-efficient living.