With no shortage of controversy, three years and six public comment periods later, USGBC® members voted to approve LEED® v4, clearing the way for its launch at the Greenbuild conference in Philadelphia later this year. The new version of LEED builds on the changes set forth in LEED 2009, but also focuses on increasing the technical rigor of the rating system, improving user experience, and providing measurement and performance tools to actually test and verify the performance of LEED certified buildings. LEED v4 addresses 21 different market sector adaptations, including hospitality, existing schools, existing retail, and multifamily midrise projects.
In response to concerns about the changes in LEED v4 being too abrupt, USGBC announced last year that it would ease into LEED v4, with project teams allowed to register for either LEED v4 or LEED 2009 until June 1, 2015, after which only LEED v4 will remain open. According to LEEDuser.com, projects registered under LEED 2009 will be allowed to complete the certification process under that system as long as they do so before it “sunsets,” which could happen as late as 2021, according to precedents. But if announcements like USGBC’s offer of free certification for the first Platinum LEED v4 projects are any indication, it will try to attract projects to the new system with financial incentives, ease of use, and prestige.
Changes to the Green Power LEED credits
In LEED v4, as before, a project can earn credit (i.e. LEED points) for purchasing green power. Depending on which system is used, a project has historically been able to earn from two (LEED NC 2.2) up to six LEED points (LEED EBOM). With the new LEED v4 rating system, projects will still be able to achieve the Green Power LEED points, but will arrive there by a different route.
The updated rating system will have new requirements to achieve Green Power Credits and the total points available for each rating system will be different. Some of the changes will likely have a great impact on LEED project developers and the renewable energy industry, as the requirements will be more stringent than in previous LEED versions. The goal of the Green Power Credit is to support the growth of clean energy, and the goal of the changes made by the USGBC in this version is to increase this support. There have been complaints in the past that these credits have been viewed as simply an inexpensive LEED point that isn’t doing as much as it could for the green energy industry. These changes hope to address this criticism by increasing the required amount and duration of LEED projects’ commitment to clean energy.
Additional LEED v4 changes include revisions to the number of LEED points a project can achieve, more stringent guidelines for newer renewable energy projects, a longer commitment to green power, a more comprehensive accounting of energy used by LEED projects (rather than just electricity), and an updated approach to using offsets in the form of renewable energy credits (RECs) and carbon offsets (also known as verified emission reductions.
We look forward to working with all our LEED clients in the coming months to ensure a smooth rollout of LEED v4. Please contact us if you have any questions and for more details, read our White Paper.