Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design


Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification is the second highest level of the U.S. Green Building Council’s rating system. The Council is a nonprofit organization that certifies environmentally sustainable businesses, homes, hospitals, schools, and neighborhoods through their LEED Green Building Rating System.

The LEED Green Building Rating System promotes the expansion of green practices and education around the world through the creation and implementation of universally understood performance criteria. LEED is a voluntary, consensus-based rating system for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings and incorporates a holistic approach that integrates all phases of design, construction, and operation. Categories include building design and construction, interior design and construction, building operations and maintenance, neighborhood development, and homes. LEED emphasizes state-of-the-art strategies and certifies buildings according to the sustainability of the site, water efficiency, energy use and impact on the atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, and innovation and design. A building can also be recognized for exemplary performance or innovation.

SUNY Erie’s Center for STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) Studies received its Gold certification on April 18, 2019, making it the first LEED Gold certification for SUNY Erie.

The STEM Building was certified under LEED New Construction Version 2009 and received 62 out of a possible 110 points in the following areas:

Sustainable Sites: 21 out of 26 points

  • Preferred parking is available for low-emitting and fuel-efficient vehicles.
  • No new parking was created for this project
  • Rain gardens are used to capture and store stormwater from the building roof. Native plants passively clean the stormwater before it soaks into the ground.
  • Light-colored roofing material on the building reduces heat island effect.

Water Efficiency: 8 out of 10 points

  • Native and drought-resistant plants were used in the landscaping to eliminate the need for irrigation and to reduce topsoil runoff. The native plants also encourage animal and insect ecosystems, which reduce landscape maintenance labor.
  • High-efficiency water and plumbing fixtures reduce potable water usage by 45%.

Energy and Atmosphere: 14 out of 35 points

  • Energy usage is 31% less than a comparable building constructed using LEED Gold standards.
  • An independent agency verified all building systems and guaranteed proper operation and energy efficiency at startup. All systems were re-verified after a year of operation.

Materials and Resources:  2 out of 14 points

  • 17.62% of building materials and products contain recycled content.
  • 88.77% of wood-based materials are Forest Stewardship Council certified.
  • Building occupants recycle paper, cardboard, metal, plastic, and glass.

Indoor Environmental Quality: 9 out of 15 points

  • No odorous or irritating building materials were used.
  • Low-emitting adhesives, paints, carpets and furniture were purchased.
  • Carbon dioxide monitors are used in densely occupied areas to increase ventilation when required.

Innovation and Design: 6 out of 6 points

  • Designed to encourage physical activity through the use of stairs.
  • No mercury containing light fixtures, all LED fixtures throughout.
  • A Green Education Program includes building signage and self-guided tours.
  • A LEED-accredited professional was responsible for the project.

Regional Priority: 2 out of 4 points

Green Building Benefits


  • Enhances and protects ecosystems and biodiversity
  • Improves air and water quality
  • Reduces solid waste
  • Conserves natural resources


  • Reduces operating costs
  • Enhances asset value and profits
  • Improves employee productivity and satisfaction
  • Optimizes life-cycle economic performance

Health and community benefits

  • Improves air, thermal, and acoustic environments
  • Enhances occupant comfort
  • Minimizes strain on local infrastructure
  • Contributes to overall quality of life

U.S. Green Building Council
For additional information on the U.S. Green Building Council, go to www.usgbc.org or visit the regional chapter at https://www.usgbc.org/chapters/usgbc-new-york-upstate-0