Initial reviews of the U.S. Green Building Council’s planned update of the LEED green-building rating system are beginning to circulate following the organization’s announcement of the opening of a public-comment period that extends through Dec. 31.
The USGBC calls the public-comment period “the next step in the continuous improvement process and the ongoing development cycle of the LEED program.” The new LEED version is expected to be issued in late 2012, with a second public-comment period anticipated in mid-2011.
A detailed early review is offered by the influential green-building authority BuildingGreen.com, which publishes Environmental Building News. The review, by Tristan Roberts, focuses on the LEED for New Construction (LEED-NC) program, although changes for the other LEED systems are also proposed. All can be viewed at LEED rating system development.
In a broad-brush overview of the draft proposed revisions, Roberts cites the expansion of LEED-project “prerequisities” from nine to 15, although the total number of credits remains the same—49. The draft also includes a new “Integrated Process” category; a new “Location and Transportation” category; and a new “Performance” category that includes commissioning credits moved from Energy and Atmosphere, combined with a number of new measurement and reporting prerequisites and credits.
The Location and Transportation category isn’t totally new, in that it “collects” location-related credits from LEED-NC and others from LEED for Neighborhood Development, Roberts says.
USGBC: ‘Continuous Improvement’ Part of LEED ‘DNA’
In announcing the launch of the public-comment process, USGBC Senior Vice President of LEED Scot Horst said “Continuous improvement of LEED is in the DNA of USGBC, and its regular evolution is necessary to continue to move market transformation forward.”
“As green building expertise advances and practice evolves, so does LEED, providing innovative solutions to the challenges and opportunities in the building industry,” Horst said. “LEED continues to be the catalyst for immediate and measureable improvement.”
USGBC said the proposed update “builds on the foundation of LEED 2009,” including the alignment and weighting of credits, and further advances the “bookshelf” framework where credits are applied to specific building types. The draft also ”places increased emphasis on integrated process and building performance,” the organization added.
The New and Different
Among the new provisions in the draft LEED proposal, says BuildingGreen’s Roberts, is the consolidation of the important and extensive Low Emitting Materials credit section into the new “Low Emitting Interiors.” The proposal and reorganizes the credits into five systems: flooring, ceilings, walls, thermal and acoustical insulation, and furniture.
A sampling of the other changes includes the following
- The credit for “Heat Island Reduction” in the draft proposal combines roof and non-roof measures into one credit, with requirements for points roughly the same as the current, LEED 2009.
- The On-Site Renewable Energy provision is largely unchanged, but point thresholds are “more aggressive.”
- The “Rapidly-Renewable” credit under the Materials and Resources section has been changed to “Biobased Materials” (Non-Structural).
- A new “Whole Building Reuse” credit is added, with a nod to historic preservation.
- Bicycle-storage facilities are changed from a “credit” to a “prerequisite,” meaning these would be required for certification, but would get no credit points.
- Credits are added for “Reduced Automobile Dependence,” replacing a credit for public-transportation access, and “Walkable Streets.”
Roberts’ entire review of the draft LEED proposal can be read at Guide to Draft LEED 2012.
The Public-Comment Process
The USGBC’s Horst said the organization “is enhancing the process we use to collect and respond to stakeholder feedback on the ideas presented in the public comment drafts of LEED.” In addition to the usual public-comment web pages at www.usgbc.org, USGBC said it will also take feedback from projects-testing pilot credits and use input from a moderated forum dedicated to discussing evolution of LEED and comments from various webinars that will be held with key stakeholders.
“USGBC intends for this public comment process to be much more generative in nature, and expects a wide-ranging dialog throughout the process,” the organization said.
U.S. Green Building Council