On November 1 the U.S. Green Building Council released version 4 of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification program.
It’s been 18 years since LEED began its mission to set benchmarks for the design, construction, and operation of high-performance green buildings. Since then the sustainable design has become an integral part of premium investment properties.
Investors report that both client and market demands are fueling strong interest in building and renovating green buildings, and LEEDS anticipates that 75% of buildings will qualify for LEED certification by 2035.
LEED 4 encourages the use of technology in order to implement a performance-based approach to the design, operation, and maintenance of commercial buildings at every stage of a project. It also pledges to reward projects that participate in demand response programs. New impact categories include climate change, human health, water resources, biodiversity, green economy, community and natural resources.
Here are some specific changes found in the new version:
The new version of LEED is focusing on a performance-based approach with regards to materials. The goal is to discover the role materials play in health and the environment and to ensure that all materials used contribute to occupant comfort and improve environmental quality.
Developing a comprehensive approach to water efficiency will require smart technology which evaluates total building water use in an effort to protect and restore water resources.
Thus the new version of LEED includes guidelines for
- rainwater management
- indoor and outdoor water use reduction
- building-level water metering
- outdoor water use reduction
and will give credits to:
- cooling tower water use
- indoor water use reduction
The new energy efficient minimum is 14% higher than in 2009, with the Energy Star scored now at 75. Teams are expected to meter, monitor, and verify energy use in order to set and meet performance goals and address utility scale performance.
New Market Sectors
Certain markets have energy needs that must be addressed specifically in order to ensure a solution compatible with their unique circumstances and sustainable initiatives is met.
For example, data centers have few occupants but consume a large amount of energy. The immense amount of sophisticated equipment means that just one data center can consume as much energy as a small town.
Heating and cooling systems also need to be specifically configured to address the immense cooling power needed for its servers.
Addressing these issues directly allows more markets to participate in the LEED rating system.
Other markets that have been included are:
- warehouse and distribution centers
- existing schools
- existing retail
- multifamily mid-rises
According to LEED: “Each of the adaptations was reviewed by market leaders either owning or designing or operating those space types to identify the unique needs to that market and appropriately address those needs within revisions to LEED v4.”
Improved Tools And Materials
In an effort to make LEED credit submittal easier, LEED has simplified credit submittal requirements, created step-by-step reference guide materials with videos and tutorials, and redesigned the technology platform so it is more intuitive for new and experienced users.