Recently a very good question came up,
“Does LEED have standards for solar systems?”
And as it turns out, my initial instinct appears to have been right: That the USGBC, which developed LEED standards, does not have any rules regulating a solar power system. It is more that solar power plays a big part in meeting LEED standards.
Indeed I believe every LEED-rated building that I have read about has incorporated solar power in some way. That includes solar powered electricity, hot water, and passive solar heating. Not that an architect or builder could get away with tossing some broken, barely functional panels on a roof and get LEED certification. LEED does require independent investigation of a building’s energy efficiency and production (including any solar power system).
I would venture that if a solar power system met or exceeded all guidelines for tax rebates and incentives put forth by the state or federal government (i.e., registered contractors, new equipment) then it should pass any LEED verification.
On a side note, the USGBC is set to release its first ever LEED guidelines for neighborhoods (until now it has been buildings only). Currently the process is in its first public comment phase (until January 5, 2009). According to some, solar does not get enough attention on LEED’s new point checklist. In fact, renewable energy accounts for only three points out of a possible 110. Definitely worth checking out, especially while you can still do something about it.