By Steve Rizer
What are the primary sticking points that still need to be resolved regarding the next version of the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED v4) suite of green building rating systems, and could those sticking points actually delay LEED v4 beyond its scheduled public launch in the fall?
During an interview with ConstructionPro Week (CPW), here is how Warren Neilson, director of projects for Environmental Building Strategies, answered this question: “Material transparency is likely the most debated topic [regarding LEED v4]. The Material & Resources [MR] category has [experienced] the most significant revision from LEED v2009 to LEED v4. There is still a significant amount of discomfort coming from those in the industry who have been fighting for full transparency of building materials and feel LEED should do more to rid buildings of harmful chemicals and materials. Additionally, the proposed new approach to documenting the MR credits may end up being more arduous than in previous versions. The final approach to documenting MR credits is still not 100 percent certain. What does seem to be certain is that the MR category will have less weighting/points associated with it. All that being said, it looks unlikely that LEED v4 will continue to be delayed because there is so much momentum to release this rating tool on schedule.” He is attending USGBC’s Mid-Year Meeting this week, where the main topic is LEED v4.
To fine-tune LEED v4, USGBC has been beta-testing the draft for about seven months and will continue to do so until November. Approximately 100 building projects worldwide are participating in the LEED v4 beta, which is expected to help USGBC validate and improve LEED v4 implementation and testing support resources, such as reference guide content and LEED Online forms through participant suggestions and input.
USGBC recently announced that it has undertaken a series of actions “to improve the LEED customer experience” in advance of LEED v4’s release. Such steps include the following:
- Reducing the number of LEED submittal forms to simplify the certification process.
- Creating credit documentation and calculators, to be available via USGBC’s Credit Library.
- Developing LEED reference guides in various formats, including a forthcoming and “entirely new” web-based reference guide that will include online tutorials, videos, and other resources to help project teams implement LEED.
- Scaling up the size and expertise of its LEED certification review team, managed by the Green Building Certification Institute, which is responsible for assessing the quality of LEED certification applications and materials and granting LEED certification.
- Growing the LEED certification review team to include licensed engineers, architects, and other specialty building professionals.
- “Significantly” investing in LEED Online to streamline and increase the reliability of the user interface, the central online portal for submitting documentation for LEED certification.
The ConstructionPro Network member version of this article features extensive comments that Neilson and a pair of USGBC officials provided to CPW. To sign up for a membership, click here.