Last week, I discussed the changes in the LEED for New Construction (LEED-NC) v3.0 checklist. I briefly touched on the addition of regional priority credits (RPCs). The priorities vary on not only a state-by-state basis, but also by zip codes within each individual state.

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), which oversees the LEED certification process, has created a FAQ to help explain the purpose of RPCs.

“RPCs are not new LEED credits, but instead are existing credits that USGBC chapters and regional councils have designated as being particularly important for their areas. The incentive to achieve the credits is in the form of a bonus point. If an RPC is earned, then a bonus point is awarded to the project’s total points.” Source: U.S. Green Building Council (PDF)

While regional priority credits were incorporated into each of the LEED Checklists, they are only available to projects in the United States, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The USGBC has Excel spreadsheets available on their website which list of all of the RPCs by zip code and by checklist. I live in the middle of the Sonoran Desert and I can (proudly) say that I was here the day the official high hit 122 degrees. One of the RPCs available for new construction projects in my area is for taking measures to reduce the heat island effect.

Projects that have shade trees, solar panels that cover the parking lot, or have at least 50% of the parking spots under cover may qualify for this RPC. For those that have never lived in the Arizona desert, I can tell you that residents like myself can appreciate the fact that this is a priority credit. As the weather starts to warm up, you will find that the parking spots under trees are the first to go. People will drive right by the closest parking spots to find those coveted shady ones. Walking a few extra minutes in the heat is much preferred to burning your hands on a 150-degree steering wheel.

For comparison’s sake, I looked at what credits have been given priority in Minnesota. Afton, MN is the first zip code on the list and one of the priority credits in 55001 is the use of a stormwater runoff management system that limits the pollution of streams, rivers, and other natural water flows in the area. According to, Afton receives just over 33” of precipitation each year. It would make sense, then, that managing the runoff from rain and snow melts would be a priority credit in the region.

These are just two examples of RPCs. To find out what credits are given priority in your region, visit the USGBC Regional Priority Credits page.

LEED 2009 regional priority credits
The newest versions of the LEED checklists include priority credits that vary by region.