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First-in-Country Projects to Get Free LEED Certification

The USGBC will refund LEED certification fees to the first LEED certified project in the 112 countries that so far lack one, in a program it's calling LEED Earth.
June 5, 2013

Want to get a refund on your LEED certification fees? If your project is in Togo, Tonga, Tunisia, or Tuvalu, and you move quickly enough, you may be in luck. Today the U.S. Green Building Council announced an initiative called "LEED Earth," in which it will offer free LEED certification to the first projects to certify in the 112 countries that so far lack a LEED certified project. USGBC says that this is part of "an effort to accelerate sustainable development around the world," and that it "aims to bring LEED certification and thereby better-performing buildings into new markets."

Here are the key rules and regulations:

  • The promotion is in effect through June 5, 2016.
  • Countries in U.N. member states without a LEED certified building are eligible—excluding countries against which the U.S. has trade sanctions. There are currently 112 such countries, according to USGBC. Are you on the list?
  • Ther first certified project under any version of LEED will get a refund of fees up to $30,000. Registration fees are excluded.
  • Projects must submit project photos and collaborate with USGBC on media outreach.

There are currently 192 U.N. members and LEED projects in 140 countries and territories—so if you do the math, the race is on in many places. Good luck! And USGBC—what about Mars?

Are you in a country without a LEED certified project? Or were you the first in your country? Please share your experiences, and questions, below. And what's next... LEED Mars?

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October 28, 2015 - 10:31 am

Does USGBC still offer to refund LEED certification fees to the first LEED certified project in a country with no LEED projects at all?

November 9, 2015 - 1:21 am

Yes. According to the LEED Earth Campaign rules and regulations:
"The LEED Earth promotion will be available for three years from announcement, beginning on 5 June 2013 and expiring on 5 June 2016. Certification must be earned during the promotional period (June 5, 2013 to June 5, 2016)"

June 12, 2013 - 9:36 pm

We have Africa's first LEED 2009 NC Gold in the bag, as well as Africa's greenest factory ( LEED Silver ). The race is on for Africa's first Platinum building ?

LEED works well in Africa, and many multinationals are taking notice of the benefits of energy and water efficient buildings as they prepare for Africa's boom times.

Although LEED is a rating tool and not in theory a guideline, it provides a good set of training wheels for anyone in Africa interested in a methodology that will deliver the optimum sustainable building.

Further, and to back up comments made by Jerry Yudelson, Building Commissioning ( and the OPR ) are the most important foundations for investment quality buildings - Verification ensures that “you built it right” and Validation ensures that “you built the right thing.”

June 12, 2013 - 2:15 pm

Since the announcement refers to "certified" rather than registered it appears that the first project to complete will be refunded their applications fees, not necessarily the first registered project in each new country?

Iceland and Kuwait kind of jump out to me as good candidates.There must be some registered projects there? Are projects that are already registered eligible?

June 12, 2013 - 3:55 pm

David, USGBC is clearly distinguishing between certification fees as being refundable, not registration fees. I don't see any obstacle to an already registered project (including ones that are in review) taking home the prize.

June 12, 2013 - 12:39 pm

Studio Domus designed the first LEED certified project in Guatemala, which was awarded certification in April 2012... Very cool initiative!

June 5, 2013 - 5:18 pm

I call dibs on the Bahamas and Maldives! :)

I'm surprised the Maldives haven't documented LEED compliance for any buildings they are very eco-friendly. It's interesting that some municipalities/countries may feel they are "beyond" LEED requirements and completing the documentation would not add a lot of value to their project.