LEED Guide v.3.0

LEED v.3.0 and Daylighting—Daylighting Isn't Just for Views

Learn how to get LEED points for EA credits as well as views.

LEED™ was created by the US Green Building Council as a guideline to help owners and design/construction professionals create buildings that reduce overall energy use and environmental impact. The associated point system provides a general indicator of how successful the design team is in creating a sustainable building:

  • Certified (40 - 49)
  • Silver (50 - 59)
  • Gold (60 - 79)
  • Platinum (80 and above)

LEED projects earn points in six categories:

  • Sustainable Sites
  • Water Efficiency
  • Energy and Atmosphere
  • Materials and Resources
  • Indoor Environmental Quality
  • Innovation and Design Process

Daylighting strategies contribute to earning LEED points in four of the six categories: Indoor Environmental Quality, Energy and Atmosphere, Materials and Resources, and Innovation and Design Process. While the benefit of daylighting in enhancing the indoor environment has been widely promoted, daylighting's value goes beyond simply providing views to the outside. Daylighting is a key strategy to reducing overall building energy use—a fundamental goal in designing a sustainable building. Following is a breakdown of where daylighting can earn LEED points, either directly through good daylighting design or indirectly by contributing to other criteria.


Prerequisite 1: Fundamental Commissioning of Building Energy Systems

  • Verify that the building's energy systems are installed, calibrated and perform according to the owner's project requirements, basis of design, and construction documents. Proper daylighting design incorporates multiple systems that must work together properly. A daylighting design should automatically incorporate a commissioning strategy.

Prerequisite 2: Minimum Energy Performance

  • Establish the minimum level of energy efficiency for the proposed building and systems. Daylighting helps ensure a whole building design strategy that easily allows a building to meet local energy codes.

Credit 1: Optimize Energy Performance (1 - 19 points)

  • Achieve increasing levels of energy performance above the prerequisite standard to reduce environmental and economic impacts associated with excessive energy use. This credit is based on whole building energy use. By employing good daylighting design, energy use by the largest building systems (lighting and HVAC) can be significantly reduced.
New Building Existing Building Points
12% 8% 1
14% 10% 2
16% 12% 3
18% 14% 4
20% 16% 5
22% 18% 6
24% 20% 7
26% 22% 8
28% 24% 9
30% 26% 10
32% 28% 11
34% 30% 12
36% 32% 13
38% 34% 14
40% 36% 15
42% 38% 16
44% 40% 17
46% 42% 18
48% 44% 19

Credit 3: Enhanced Commissioning (2 points)

  • Begin commissioning process early during the design process and execute additional activities after systems performance verification is completed. Daylighting involves multiple systems working together to achieve significant reduction in building energy use. From the inception of building design, a commissioning strategy should be developed in parallel with the daylighting design.

Credit 5: Measurement & Verficiation (3 points)

  • Provided for the ongoing accountability of building energy consumption over time. Regular monitoring of lighting energy use will ensure that your daylighting design is operating as it was designed. This should be incorporated into building operations as a matter of course.


Credit 4: Recycled Content (1-2 points)

  • Increase demand for building products that incorporate recycled content materials, thereby reducing impacts resulting from extraction and processing of virgin materials. Many products used in daylighting design can help meet recycled content goals. Skylight frames, window framing, exterior shading and lightshelves can incorporate recycled metal. Other products that are often incorporated into daylighting designs can also be specified for recycled content: high reflectance ceiling tiles, lighting fixture housing, light colored flooring products and low-height cubicle partitions.
Recycled Content Points
10% 1
20% 2

Credit 5: Regional Materials (1-2 points)

  • Increase demand for building materials and products that are extracted and manufactured within the region. Products for daylighting are manufactured all over the country. In many areas of the country it can be fairly easy to locate products produced within your region whether for toplighting or sidelighting.


Credit 6.1: Controllability of Systems: Lighting (1 point)

  • Provide a high level of lighting system control by individual occupants or groups in multi-occupant spaces to promote their productivity, comfort and well-being. Daylighting should include an automated control strategy, but should also incorporate manual overrides that allow occupants to maintain a quality light level for a special activity or limited time need. Daylighting controls ensure lighting savings as well as occupant satisfaction with their space.

Credit 8.1: Daylight and Views - Daylight (1 point)

  • Provide for the building occupants a connection between indoor spaces and outdoors through introduction of daylighting and views into the regularly occupied areas of the building. Important for both energy savings potential as well as creating beautiful spaces that are good for people.
Regularly Occupied Spaces Points
75% 1


Calculation options to achieve this credit include:

  • Prescriptive—demonstrate that 75% of occupied areas are daylight zones
  • Computer simulation—demonstrate that a minimum of 25 footcandles is achieved in 75% of occupied areas
  • Measurement—demonstrate through manual measurement on 10ft. grid that a minimum of 25 footcandles is achieved in 75% of occupied areas
  • Combination

Credit 8.2: Daylight and Views - Views (1 point)

  • Provide for the building occupants a connection between indoor spaces and the outdoors through the introduction of daylight and views into regularly occupied areas of the building. We all intuitively know that we want to have a window to the outdoors. This point simply gives you credit for something you should already be doing in creating great spaces for occupants.


LEED allows for up to 4 points that can be achieved through innovation. True integrated daylighting design can often result in both design approaches and innovations that qualify for these points.