EDITOR'S NOTE: After this article was written and published, USGBC announced LEED 2012 will be renamed LEED v4 and will delay ballot until June 1, 2013. Click here for more information from USGBC President Rick Fedrizzi.
The evolution of the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC
) LEED program is critical to connecting the building market to new and innovative ways of thinking about the design, construction, maintenance and operation of green buildings. With more than 8.3 billion square feet of space around the world participating in the commercial and institutional LEED rating systems, the program’s past and future success is largely due to it being developed by the people who use it.
The next version of the program, LEED 2012, is no exception. After undergoing multiple public comment periods, LEED 2012 is in its final phase of the program delivery process: member ballot. When it debuts at the 2012 Greenbuild International Conference & Expo in November, the finalized version will continue to push the global sustainability movement forward.
LEED 2012 builds on the foundational changes made in LEED 2009, offering a new global perspective, better user experience and performance management tools to help certified projects measure and manage energy and water usage. Additional Market Sectors
While certification has always been available to all building types, LEED 2012 will address unique market sectors, adding data centers, warehouses, distribution centers, hospitality, existing schools, existing retail and mid-rise residential to its roster. Increased Technical Rigor
LEED 2012 includes more requirements intended to improve environmental outcomes. Each credit category includes technical changes that reflect market data, stakeholder-generated ideas, expert engagement, and advances in technology and market acceptability of LEED and green building practices.
For example, for the first time in the building design and construction rating system, location and transportation issues are in a separate category from sustainable sites. The Location and Transportation category rewards projects located in densely populated, public transit-driven locations that allow occupants to experience the environmental, economic and social benefits of community connectivity.
The Sustainable Sites category focuses on the vital relationships between projects and ecosystems onsite and adjacent to the project. Certain LEED credits have been simplified, and a new credit for conducting a site assessment rewards projects for information gathering that aids in the understanding of the unique characteristics, opportunities and challenges onsite. Gaining this understanding will help project teams achieve other site credits at higher levels of performance, while encouraging onsite and offsite habitat preservation, biodiversity and restorative environmental solutions.
The Water Efficiency category addresses more building water uses than LEED 2009. The long-term goal is to create a comprehensive water budget that allows project teams to determine their project’s major water uses and target efficiency measures at the areas of largest impact. In LEED 2012, the credits are reorganized as an incremental step toward an integrated water budget along with mandatory requirements for water metering.
The Materials and Resources category is intended to change the way project teams think about materials. The category is organized around resource reuse, assessment and optimization, human and ecological health, and waste management to better define the environmental priorities throughout the LEED project development process. It requires more transparent manufacturer reporting and encourages projects to use materials with life cycle assessment-based Environmental Product Declaration labels.
Finally, the Indoor Environmental Quality category has been grouped into four main areas of focus: indoor air, light, sound and experience. New credits for acoustical design and substantially improved credits for daylight, views and interior lighting are intended to improve the health, productivity and performance of LEED building occupants. Revised Credit Weightings
Revised LEED point distribution more closely aligns the rating system requirements with the priorities articulated by the USGBC community.
LEED 2012 points are allocated based on credits achieved within a more focused set of impact categories. The LEED 2012 impact categories include:
- reduce contribution to global climate change;
- enhance individual human health, well-being and vitality;
- protect and restore water resources;
- protect and restore habitat and ecosystem services;
- promote sustainable and regenerative material resource cycles;
- build a green economy; and
- enhance communities through social equity, environmental justice and improved quality of life.
The rating system will still contain 100 base points. All credits within the LEED 2012 system (old or new) are weighted using the new impact categories and valued relative to other credits in the rating system.