To review, LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) was created by the USGBC (United States Green Building Council) as a way to offer third-party validation of a project's green features. It has created its own vocabulary and mis-used vocabulary as well. To simplify:

People are LEED "accredited."  (They have been trained in LEED policies and procedures and can provide advice regarding your project.)

Buildings are LEED "certified." (They have been independently reviewed and found to meet specific LEED standards and conditions.)

Products are LEED "compliant." (They meet LEED's specifications to be used in a project.)

Products can "contribute" toward "credits" within a category.

Beware of a company offering "LEED Certified flooring"-there is no such thing. Nor is a specific product worth points or credits, nor does the use of a specific product guarantee the project will get credits within that category. No manufacturer can guarantee that their product will get your project certified, so beware of any excessive claims.

There are many different kinds of LEED certification (both levels and classes of projects), but the concepts are generally the same, and next week, we'll look at some of the ways floors can contribute to a LEED project.

See www.usgbc.org (U.S.) or www.cagbc.org (Canada) for more information.

Elizabeth Baldwin has over 20 years of international wood sourcing experience. Very widely traveled, her résumé's "Special Skills" section includes "the ability to eat anything from raw horse to deep-fried scorpion." She serves as Metropolitan Hardwood Flooring's (metrofloors.com) ECO (Environmental Compliance Officer) and deals daily with the "green alphabet soup" of today's industry: FSC, CARB, LEED, and much more. She blogs for Hardwood Floors on all things green (and, as she says, " 'grey' and 'blue' and almost every color except 'black and white.' Nothing in this world is black and white, particularly not 'green issues.'")