LEED for Commercial Interiors is a green building certification program meant for tenant spaces in commercial buildings. Examples of these tenant spaces include offices, restaurants, healthcare facilities, hotels, resorts and educational buildings.

Eligibility for LEED for Commercial Interiors is limited to tenants who lease space and do not occupy the entire building.

According to the U.S. Green Building Council, the intent of the program is to “promote healthful, durable, affordable, and environmentally sound practices in tenant space design and construction.”

Indeed, LEED for Commercial Interiors is one of several green building certifications to emerge from the LEED program. The different certifications address several different scopes for building projects. In addition to LEED for Commercial Interiors, the other types of certifications include LEED for Core & Shell, LEED for New Construction, LEED for Schools, LEED for Neighborhood Development, LEED for Retail, LEED for Healthcare and LEED for Homes.

Tenants interested in earning the LEED for Commercial Interiors certification need to register their space with the Green Building Certification Institute, an organization created in 2008 with the support of the U.S. Green Building Council. The Green Building Certification Institute, which administers LEED program credentials and certifications, allows spaces to be registered online through its website, www.gbci.org. Getting registered establishes contact with the institute and gives the applicant access to software tools and other information to help achieve LEED certification.

To become LEED certified, the project must earn a certain number of points, which are awarded for taking various steps toward greening a tenant space.

The seven topics addressed by the LEED for Commercial Interiors certification program include:

  • Sustainable sites
  • Water efficiency
  • Energy and atmosphere
  • Materials and resources
  • Indoor environmental quality
  • Innovation in design
  • Regional priority
The maximum number of points that can be accrued for LEED for Commercial Interiors is 110.

To receive certification, a project must earn a minimum of 40 points. Here is the scale for the other levels of certification:

  • Certified: 40 to 49 points
  • Silver: 50 to 59 points
  • Gold: 60 to 79 points
  • Platinum: 80 points or above
It should be noted that the U.S. Green Building Council says the LEED for Commercial Interiors certification was designed to fit nicely with the LEED for Core & Shell certification. In fact, the latter was partly designed to help developers prepare a building for environmentally conscious tenants.

What are some ways to earn points toward LEED for Commercial Interiors certification? Here are a few tips:

1. Lease space in a LEED certified building. You just earned your first five points.

2. Lease space in existing building located near public transportation. Site selection plays a big part in the LEED program and it counts for up to 21 points in the LEED for Commercial Interiors certification. Tenants can earn quick points for finding space in an urban area with existing infrastructure that is within a 1/2 mile walking distance of a commuter rail, light rail or subway station, or 1/4 mile of a bus stop.

3. Install daylight response controls in all daylit spaces and under skylights. These controls turn off or dim electric lights in response to the presence or absence of daylight in the room.

4. Install occupancy sensors. Similar to daylight sensors, these controls turn off or dim electric lights when no one is using a room.

5. Install EnergyStar eligible equipment. Tenants can earn up to four points for appliances, office equipment, electronics and commercial food service equipment that meets EnergyStar requirements.

6. Collect recyclable material. The U.S. Green Building Council recommends setting up an area for collecting and storing materials that can be recycled. At a minimum, the materials to be collected much include paper, corrugated cardboard, glass, plastics and metals.

7. Stay for the long haul. Tenants can earn one point if they commit to stay in the same location for 10 years. This is intended to reduce the environmental impact of moving a business from one place to another.

8. Buy used furniture rather than new. Tenants can earn one point if 30 percent of the total furniture and furnishings budget is spent on salvaged, refurbished or used furniture.

9. Use local materials. The certification requirements say tenants can earn points for using construction materials and products that are manufactured within a radius of 500 miles.

10. Use rapidly renewable materials. Tenants can earn one point if 5 percent of the total value of construction materials and products comes from rapidly renewable sources. Examples cited by the U.S. Green Building Council include bamboo flooring, wool carpets, straw board, cotton batt insulation, linoleum flooring, poplar OSB, sunflower seed board and wheatgrass cabinetry.

11. Use FSC-certified wood. If tenants purchase new wood-based products, they can earn one point if a minimum of 50 percent of those products are Forest Stewardship Council certified. The FSC certification is used to ensure the wood came from forests that employ sustainable forestry principals.

12. Go smoke-free. Tenants can easily meet the LEED requirement for minimizing exposure to tobacco smoke by leasing space in a building that prohibits smoking by all occupants and users.

13. Use low-VOC-emitting adhesives. Volatile organic compounds can be harmful to the health of installers and building tenants so the LEED program awards points in several areas for using low-VOC materials. For adhesives and sealants, the U.S. Green Building Council recommends checking the VOC levels for general construction adhesives, flooring adhesives, fire-stopping sealants, caulking, duct sealants, plumbing adhesives and cove base adhesives.

14. Use low-VOC paints and coatings. Similar to the advice for sealants and adhesives, the council recommends tenants specify low-VOC paints and coatings in construction materials. In addition, clear wood finishes, floor coatings, stains, primers and shellacs applied to indoor spaces must be low-VOC.

Naturally, there are dozens of additional ways to earn points toward certification. Also, there are other requirements for the LEED program. A complete list can be found on the U.S. Green Building Council's website.

Do you have an experience with LEED for Commercial Interiors? Leave a comment below to tell us more about it.