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LEED v4 Launches

At last week's Greenbuild Conference and Expo in Philadelphia, the USGBC not only celebrated its 20th anniversary, but the official launch of LEED v4.

Scot Horst, senior vice president of LEED, USGBC, noted that LEED v4 changes the way buildings are being built by looking at the building as a whole. The focus is on building performance management; so building owners have a better understanding of how to manage their buildings to achieve full performance potential. Overall, he said, the reaction to LEED v4 has been overwhelmingly positive.

"LEED v4, at its core, provides insight into the synergies within the building system, providing solutions for optimizing performance, and ultimately achieving better environmental, economic and social outcomes in our buildings," Horst said. "LEED v4 is the LEED of the future, where we challenge the marketplace to go further, to make the next great leap toward better, cleaner, healthier buildings where people live and work."

The highly discussed newest version of LEED features increased thresholds for energy, water, waste and indoor environmental quality, in addition to introducing new credit categories, such as Location and Transportation. LEED v4 also adds new market sectors, including data centers, warehouses and distribution centers, hospitality, existing schools and retail, and mid-rise residential projects. Additionally, it takes an increased focus on human health, climate change, water resources, green economy, biodiversity, community and natural resources.

A major aspect of LEED v4 is how materials are thought about. Transparency is key, and there's a lot more weight on life cycle assessments, environmental product declarations and material ingredient reporting. The thought being, the more we know about what goes into the products that are specified, the more care will be taken to specify environmentally safe products, leading to increased building performance and better human health.

Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chair of the USGBC noted, LEED v4 is a quantum leap for LEED. "Over the past 15 years, LEED has fundamentally revolutionized how we design, construct, operate and maintain our buildings and communities. LEED has created a completely new industry of business enterprise committed to energy savings and efficiency. LEED v4 is as much a testament to the achievements of LEED project teams around the world as it is to the green building community's ambition to create significant global and local change through resource-efficient, cost-effective green buildings."

So far, there are 122 projects around the world registered for LEED v4, including a few that have already received project certifications. The Haworth Beijing Organic Showroom in Beijing, China, received LEED v4 Gold certification for its commercial space, and 1800 K Street in Washington, D.C., received LEED v4 Silver certification as an existing building. Additionally, there are three core and shell projects that have earned LEED precertification: University Place in Philadelphia; 10 Emery St., Bethlehem, Pa.; and Capitol Tower Complex in Houston.

I'm sure over the next few months and years, we will be having a lot more discussions about LEED v4. I'm looking forward to seeing where the discussion goes.

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