By Keith Loria, Contributing Editor
In another win for the environment, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) announced that its membership has voted to adopt LEED v4, an improved update to the world’s most visible green building rating system.
“USGBC’s mission is to transform the way buildings and communities are designed, built and operated, enabling an environmentally and socially responsible, healthy and prosperous environment that improves the quality of life,” Chrissy Macken, assistant project manager for LEED v4, told Commercial Property Executive. “USGBC wants LEED buildings to not just do less bad from an environmental perspective, but do more good. This requires that the LEED rating system continuously improve and guide the market toward more environmentally sustainable strategies and decisions.”
The new LEED v4 will launch at the Greenbuild Conference and Expo, scheduled for Nov. 18-23 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia.
According to Macken, LEED v4 needed to be a more performance-based (measurable) system that serves as the global standard for green building design, construction and operation.
“LEED is currently used in over 140 countries around the world – addressing this much wider audience was central to this update,” she said. “There is a greater focus on performance, linking credit achievement more closely with improved environmental outcomes.”
Examples of building green include the restructuring of the Materials and Resources credits, focusing on holistic material performance (total environmental impact: water, energy, etc.) instead of rewarding single attributes of materials (recycled content, regional, etc.), and changing low-emitting materials credits to address the actual emissions of the product, and not the VOC content, as LEED 2009 did.
The next-generation LEED program includes more options for projects outside of the US, compared to LEED 2009, and has been expanded to include data centers, warehouses and distribution centers.
According to Macken, LEED v4 will also include a provision that will give a building that uses fewer, better materials up to 9 LEED points in an effort to give incentives to both product manufacturers that voluntarily report about their product makeup and those that reduce the negative impacts from extraction of raw material through the manufacturing process.
Another LEED v4 change includes allocating about 20 percent of all points to optimizing energy performance over the ASHRAE 90.1-2010, a move that would do more to help curb carbon emissions than any LEED rating system in its 12-year history, according to the USGBC. According to Macken, projects will still need to meet minimum prerequisites and will have their choice of which credits they earn to reach certification. From an energy perspective, the minimum standard has changed from ASHRAE 90.1-2007 to 90.1-2010 on the design side, and moved from a minimum ENERGY STAR score of 69 to 75 on the operations side.
“Projects continue to have minimum requirements for water efficiency on both the design and operations side and have minimum indoor air quality standards as well,” she added. “We have a new approach to materials and resources that encourages projects to much more holistically address the products and materials they are using on the project.”
Any building that has been previously certified with a LEED rating is able to recertify under the LEED for Building Operations and Maintenance rating system and can do so by registering the project with the Green Building Certification Institute.
Currently, there are more than 100 projects pursuing certification through the LEED v4 beta program.