LEED 2012 Becomes LEED v4
In the May and June issues of Metal Architecture, we devoted the
"LEEDing the Way" column to introducing the upcoming changes to the
LEED rating system through the release of LEED 2012. The U.S. Green
Building Council (USGBC) had previously set a target release date
for the revised rating system for November 2012, coinciding with
USGBC's annual international convention and expo, Greenbuild.
Recently, USGBC announced the release of the new rating system
would be delayed. The consensus process developed by USGBC allows
for the public to comment on the draft versions of the document.
With previous draft versions of the LEED rating system, USGBC has
allowed for usually two, but up to three, public comment periods.
For LEED 2012, USGBC opened the process to third and fourth public
comment periods, allowing the maximum number of users and
stakeholders the opportunity to comment on the next version of the
LEED rating system.
The continual increase in comments through this consensus
process is a somewhat unusual occurrence. Typically, as comments
are reviewed and resolved, those posting the comments are satisfied
with the revisions, and eventually, all comments are addressed to
the satisfaction of those posting the comments.
As described in our previous columns, the proposed changes
contained in LEED 2012 were significant, including an increased
level of performance and technical stringency, fundamentally
different language in certain prerequisites and credits, and the
development of new requirements for additional project types, such
as hospitality and residential uses, data centers, warehouses and
distribution centers. The changes were so significant that, as the
draft document went through each successive public comment period,
the overall number of comments continued to be substantial due to
further modifications to the documents.
On June 4, 2012, Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding
chairman of USGBC, issued an announcement stating that balloting
for the acceptance of the revised rating system would be delayed
until the period of June 1 through June 30, 2013. Because of the
delay of the balloting and subsequent release of the rating system,
branding of the new system changed to LEED v4 instead of LEED 2012.
This announcement was a surprise to many in the LEED community.
USGBC published additional information on their website regarding
the delay and proposed changes. Following is a summary of the
information USGBC has provided regarding LEED v4.
Reasons for the Delay
USGBC has taken this unprecedented step in response to the
overwhelming reaction received from LEED user groups. The fourth
public comment alone received more than 1,300 comments from the
stakeholders. In all, more than 21,000 comments on the new rating
system were reviewed by LEED staff and committee members. The delay
in the process has specifically been cited as an allowance of more
time for all users to understand and absorb all the changes.
USGBC will also use this time to further develop and test the
supporting resources, such as LEED Online and the LEED submittal
templates, which are used to document prerequisite and credit
requirements in LEED Online. The new timeline will also allow for a
fifth public comment period, currently scheduled for Oct. 2-Dec.
Preview and Beta Test
The delay will allow for project teams to participate in public
forums and educational sessions, and review credit documentation,
forms, online reference guide examples and an updated LEED v4
rating system at the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo
being held in San Francisco on Nov. 14- 16, 2012 (visit
www.greenbuildexpo.org for more information).
The delay also creates a window of opportunity for beta testing
of the new system. Project teams may volunteer to participate in
the beta test by emailing LEEDv4@usgbc.org. Teams in the beta test
will help identify any challenges with proposed documentation and
areas of the rating system that may benefit from further user
education or development. Beta test projects are eligible to earn
formal LEED certification provided all requirements are met. The
LEED steering committee is also investigating the possibility of
introducing alternative compliance paths for LEED 2009 credits that
incorporate elements of LEED v4, giving teams another opportunity
to test out the new requirements.
LEED 2009 Extension
Because of the delay of LEED v4, projects can continue to
register under LEED 2009 until June 1, 2015. USGBC is committed to
supporting projects registered under the existing system and will
not require project teams to upgrade to the LEED v4 rating system
during the life of that project, provided registration under LEED
2009 occurred on or before June 1, 2015. LEED 2009 will continue to
be maintained through addenda, LEED interpretations and alternative
compliance paths, in accordance with established LEED rating system
As with most things in life, there are always changes. The LEED
rating system is no different. From the very first version of the
LEED rating system, we have witnessed both major and minor changes,
and teams using the various versions of the rating systems have
continued to adapt and grow along with USGBC. It is the mission of
USGBC to continue to raise the standards by which building
performance is measured, and the next version of the LEED rating
system is therefore inevitable.
LEED rating system is therefore inevitable. In the past, rating
system changes have happened relatively quickly, with little time
for teams to fully understand the impacts of the changes,
compelling them to adopt a reactive instead of a proactive stance
in an effort to remain current. With LEED v4, USGBC is allowing
everyone ample time to absorb and adapt to the changes which will
hopefully make the transition to LEED v4 smoother than what was
experienced by some teams with past versions of the rating
Thomas Taylor, a 30-year veteran of the
construction industry and noted expert on sustainability, is the
general manager of St. Louis-based Vertegy. His recent book, "Guide
to LEED 2009: Estimating and Preconstruction Strategies," provides
step-by-step information about the LEED 2009 for New Construction
process. To learn more about Vertegy or Taylor's new book, visit
www.vertegyconsultants.com for more information.