Many facility managers, energy managers and building owners aspire to certification in the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) program. On Nov. 1, the fourth version of LEED will take full effect.
It already is in the field. Initially, the registration for the previous version, LEED 2009 (which also is known as LEED v3), was set to close on June 27, 2015. In 2014, the USGBC extended LEED 2009 to Oct. 31 of this year. Those dates, the organization said at the time, refer to registration of projects. The last day that those projects can be submitted for certification remains the same, however: June 30, 2021. Thus, activity in LEED v4 and LEED 2009 will overlap for years.
Stellar Food for Growth yesterday posted a concise review of LEED v4. It points to four basic differences between the new certification and those that came before. It seeks to more flexibly accommodate global growth, address individual market sectors more directly, improve the eventual environmental outcomes and provide more user-friendly interfaces, the story says. Each of these categories is elaborated upon in the piece.
It is clear that the new version of the program is being well vetted. Commercial Property Executive says that there are more than 100 LEED v4 test projects and that about the same number have been certified. The story says that LEED v4 will deal with 21 unique market sector issues. The key is efficiency:
LEED v4 is placing more emphasis on energy optimization. Enck said the projects must now be at least 14 percent more energy efficient than the previous version, and 20 percent of all points will be centered on energy efficiency. Projects must also have an Energy Star score of at least 75, up from 69, he said, referring to the Environmental Protection Agency-backed rating system that promotes energy efficiency and uses an interactive tool to track buildings’ energy, water and, most recently, waste consumption.
Corey Enck is LEED’s Vice President of Technology Development. He wrote in response to emailed questions from Energy Manager Today that the new iteration of the program increases efficiency and use of renewables:
LEED v4. raises the bar on energy and offers new solutions for achieving goals, starting with a focus on reducing energy demand through guidance related to energy usage and efficiency and then also rewarding renewables. Specifically within the Energy and Atmosphere (CEA) credit section, LEED v4 has an increased emphasis on energy and the associated impacts, with 30 percent of all points allocated to building energy efficiency. There is also a greater focus on commissioning, by adding an option for envelope commissioning and monitoring based commissioning, as well as the benefits of smart grid through an option that rewards projects for participating in demand response programs.
The USGBC also is posting in-depth case study/interviews about LEED v4 implementation. One of these features Paladino and Company, a green building and sustainability consulting firm. Vice President Brad Pease provides deep detail on why the firm opted for LEED v4 instead of LEED 2009. He also discussed the implementation differences.
A key question was what the firm has learned from its experience with LEED v4 certification. The answer is not surprising: Prepare and engage “the team” even earlier. Said Pease:
With a significantly revised rating system focused on performance rather than as-designed conditions, LEED v4 incentivizes integrated design and decision making. Specialty expertise will be required for some credits where architecture and engineering firms may have used generalists before.
LEED certification of any sort is demanding and a significant challenge. Clearly, LEED v4 raises the bar both in terms of benefits and level of difficulty. A concise snapshot of the differences in the latest standard is available from Legrand North America. Earlier this month, the vendor posted a product guide that largely focuses on its products. Of more general interest, however, is information interspersed in the document that contrasts LEED 2009 and LEED v4.
LEED certification has risen from its introduction in the early 1990s to being one of the main drivers of energy efficient and environmentally sound building practices. Many builders and energy insiders already are family with LEED v4. In a couple of weeks, it – and the USGBC – take a step to make it more the central focus of these efforts.