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LEED v4 is Here. What Now?
LEED v4 is Here. What Now?

LEED® [Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design] has come a long way in bringing green building design to the modern marketplace. Since NewConstructionv1.0 was developed in 1998, the rating system has gone from being an industry-specific term to an internationally-known symbol of environmental stewardship. The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is in the process of rolling out the first of the beta projects under its newest, consensus-based version 4. What has changed and how will it impact your project?

Credit Categories
For the most prolific LEED Rating System, Building Design & Construction (BD&C), the existing credit categories from LEED BD&Cv3 will remain, with the addition of two more:  Integrative Process and Location and Transportation.  These new credit categories aim to make sustainability planning a fundamental stage in the early project design, allowing the team’s integrated decisions to have a greater overall effect on the project’s environmental impact. Also, points will be awarded for projects that exist in both LEED for Neighborhood Development and BD&C, bridging the gap between rating systems and allowing for greater gains for sustainable developments. http://www.google.com

Increased Technical Rigor
The newest version of LEED BD&C will incorporate the most recent standards for energy efficiency, indoor environmental quality, and material selection.  The following standards and technologies make an appearance in the new rating system:
• Energy Metering: End-use energy metering and BAS reporting
• Demand Response: Utility program participation or capacity for future implementation
• Materials Life-cycle Assessment:

o Global warming potential, ozone depletion, energy sources, eutrophication and acidification
o ISO 14044 assessed products

• Responsible Materials Sourcing (3rd-Party Verified):

o ISO 26000
o Global Reporting Initiative Sustainability Report
o U.N. Global Compact
o OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises

• Bio-based Materials: ASTM Test Method D6866
• Material Ingredient Reporting:

o Cradle to Cradle Certification, v2 and v3
o GreenScreen v1.2 Benchmarking for chemical reduction
o Chemical Abstract Service Registration Number (CASRN)

• Regional Materials within 100 miles of project site
• Ventilation and Air Quality:  ASHRAE 62.1-2010
• Thermal Comfort:  ASHRAE 55-2010
• Emissions Evaluation (Materials): CDPH Standard Method v1.1–2010

With the increased stringency of many technical aspects of LEED BD&Cv4, project teams will need to become familiar with the new requirements, especially the significant changes as they relate to Materials & Resources credit certifications and calculations, which have seen a complete overhaul.

USGBC-Approved Programs and Products
The complexities in the new Materials & Resources section have brought about a great deal of debate during the approval process. Currently, the USGBC has left a loophole in many of these credits, allowing for “similar” USGBC-approved products, programs, and processes for nearly every new credit requirement in this category. These have been defined as “products that comply with other USGBC approved multi-attribute frameworks.” As beta projects reach completion, these categories will become better defined and more comprehensive.

International Applicability
In order to better accommodate the increase in international project certifications and registrations, LEED BD&Cv4 provides alternative compliance options for international projects for many credits. For example, low-emitting materials used in projects outside the country will be permitted to comply with either the California Department of Public Health or German AgBB certifications, and air quality requirements for international buildings may elect to comply with CEN Standard EN 15251–2007 instead of ASHRAE 62.1-2010. These changes will allow for ease of implementation of LEED credit requirements around the world, creating an obvious benefit abroad and a subsequent one in the US:  the proliferation of the rating system will bring about an improved international recognition, increasing the value of LEED certification for your project.

Beta projects for LEED BD&Cv4 are already in progress.  However, in order to ensure a successful program launch, design teams will have the option to register projects under LEED 2009 until mid-2015. So why aim for v4? Increased recognition and owner preferences may influence project team selection.  The USGBC is offering other incentives for early adopters, including waived registration fees and ease of use of the new system. One thing is clear, though – LEED has changed to meet our dynamic market, and will certainly persist through the next generation of green building.
For more information visit: http://www.usgbc.org/leed/v4.

LEED v4 is Here. What Now?

Pictured above is the interior of our Bancomer Torre project located in Mexico City. Photo courtesy of LegoRogers [Legorreta + Legorreta and Rogers, Stirk, Harbour + Partners].