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Transforming LEED?

Posted in Blog on Tuesday, November 6th, 2012 at 11:27 am No Comments
Transforming LEED?

Transforming LEED?

By Rob Hink, LEED AP BD&C, O&M, ND
Principal, The Spinnaker Group

You may have heard rumbling that a new version of LEED is on the way. In fact, originally it was called LEED 2012 and was to be released this month. Because LEED is consensus based, it was clear to the USGBC, based on the number of comments, during the four public comment periods, that more time was needed to flush out all of the new credit requirements. It is now expected that the current version of LEED will still be available through 2014. Going forward, the new version of LEED will be called LEED V4.


Impact categories: USGBC developed new impact categories to align more closely with the vision of LEED. These categories go beyond the categories used for LEED 2009 the way project teams think about materials that were based on limiting damage; instead the LEED v4 categories emphasize the Life Cycle Assessment potential for projects to contribute positively to their communities and to the planet.

Increased technical rigor: LEED v4 has the potential to reduce CO2 emissions and save more water more than any other versions of LEED. In addition, LEED v4:

  • Increases emphasis on energy and the associated impacts by allocating 20% of all points to building energy efficiency
  • Brings the benefits of smart grid thinking to the forefront with a credit that rewards projects for participating in demand response programs
  •  Supports a lifecycle approach to product and material specification through a revised and strengthened Materials & Resources credit category
  • Drives leadership in the manufacturing sector by promoting innovative reporting tools and programs
  • Encourages support of products extracted and manufactured from domestic and local sources

Market sectors: Additional LEED rating systems have been developed to address data centers, warehouses and distribution centers, hospitality, existing schools, existing retail and mid-rise

Support tools and resources: Simplified documentation process, step-by-step reference guide materials and forms that are more intuitive are now being built and aim to reduce certification complexity.

LEED V4 is not without some controversy. Several new credits are introduced, such as Material Ingredient Reporting, Avoidance of Chemicals of Concern, and Responsible Extraction of Raw Materials. These credits have caused come lobbyists in the chemical industry to petition members of congress to do away with LEED as a standard for federal buildings. Additionally, some areas of the country without large stands of FSC forests are claiming that the USGBC goes too far in restricting the sustainable forestry management.

The USGBC is currently wrapping up their fifth and final public comment period, which closes on December 10, 2012. You can learn more about LEED V4 at USGBC.org/leed/v4.

About The Spinnaker Group – The Spinnaker Group is a highly respected consulting firm (with more than 200 LEED projects to its credit) and a leader in the green movement. Services include LEED Consulting, Commissioning and Energy Modeling. Their comprehensive list of diverse and satisfied clients speaks volumes about TSG’s efforts to help build better, smarter, easier-to-operate and more cost-effective buildings and neighborhoods.