I see this or that building project referring to its LEED ratings. I know it has something to do with the green-building movement. How many LEED building ratings are there and how many in Jackson County?

— Stephen H., Ashland

LEED stands for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, and it is a green building-certification program that recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices. Building projects must satisfy certain prerequisites to earn basic certification ratings, with higher scores translating into higher ratings.

To merely gain certification requires a minimum of 40 points. Silver status begins at 50 points, gold starts at 60, and a minimum of 80 puts a project in the platinum range. Building design and construction; interior design and construction; building operations and maintenance; and neighborhood development all play a role in scoring for commercial projects, while homes have their own scoring system.

There are 140 LEED buildings statewide either possessing or awaiting platinum certification. There are presently seven commercial, institutional or residential building projects either owning LEED platinum ratings or seeking platinum standing. According to the LEED website, the Southern Oregon University/Rogue Community College Higher Education Center, which earned a platinum rating back in May 2010, scoring 54 out of 69 possible points.

Two Ashland residences have platinum ratings, one on Ridge Road, which produced a score of 95 in September 2013, and a second on Birdsong Lane, which scored 91.5 in September 2009. Two more Ashland residences on Oak Street and Sunnyview Street are awaiting word. The Oregon State University Experimental Station off of Kings Highway in Medford is in the middle of its certification as well.

The most recent addition to the platinum club is the Plaza West building on Lithia Way, which achieved certification in August with a score of 92.

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