Stoddert Elementary School in Washington, D.C., is the site of a sparkling new building addition and rehab. Last month, crews were still putting the finishing touches on the landscaping and a new glass wall that blends into a beautiful 1932 brick schoolhouse.

“Architecture can no longer be just sculpture,” says Rick Fedrizzi, head of the USGBC, the private nonprofit that runs the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification system known as LEED. Architecture must be about performance, Fedrizzi says, especially in the case of schools.

“We have the ability through the bricks and mortar to change the way our kids learn, absorb information, interact with their teacher, and ultimately have the ability for a much more productive life,” he says. “It’s a moral objective of all of us to make sure that this happens across the board.”

In Washington, it’s more than an objective — it is the law. All new public buildings must achieve LEED certification.

LEED is a force to be reckoned with in the construction world. Fourteen federal departments and agencies, 34 states and more than 200 local governments now encourage or require LEED certification. Some places offer incentives to certify. Others, like Washington, mandate it as a kind of code.

Under LEED, the environmentally conscious features of Stoddert will be tallied up, and the USGBC will award a plaque certifying the school as a green building.

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