“LEED projects have a very long tail,” said a U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) official, explaining why the organization will be introducing greater stringency for energy performance prerequisites and credits under LEED v4.
In other words, new construction projects registering today likely won’t get built for a long time and will continue to “exist for many years” after the current version of the rating system has closed. That’s according to Corey Enck, vice president for LEED technical development, who was speaking at a Greenbuild San Francisco session on the future of LEED.
Is this leadership?
To ensure LEED v4 will still “represent leadership over the next few years,” Enck said, “it’s important for us to update what we think are the most important parts of that rating system.” Hence, he said, “we are raising the bar on the energy requirements in version 4 through a balloted update.” The changes apply to the Building Design and Construction (BD+C) and Interior Design and Construction (ID+C) rating systems.
Here’s what’s in store:
- ASHRAE 90.1-2010 will remain the referenced standard, but these changes will require projects to reduce much more drastically against that baseline to achieve points.
- There will also be pathways referencing the 2013, 2016, and 2019 versions of the 90.1 standard.
- Project teams will be able to choose between two energy-efficiency metrics: energy cost, which has been the standard since LEED began, or source energy.
- Mirroring the requirements of LEED v4.1, half of the points for Optimize Energy Performance will come from energy efficiency and half from a greenhouse gas emissions metric.
- For the Minimum Energy Performance prerequisite, project teams can select any one of the three metrics (energy cost, source energy, or greenhouse gas emissions).
Enck characterized these changes as a “signal to the market” as well as part of the transition to LEED v5. He said this v4 change is an “incremental step” in that process.
November or December 2022: USGBC will release details and open public comments.
February or March 2023: A second public comment period will open if needed.
May or June 2023: The changes will be voted on.
Assuming the ballot is successful, USGBC will choose a date after which newly registering projects will have to meet the more stringent requirements.
This is a new approach
This method of upgrading the energy requirements—where all projects have to meet a higher standard—differs from the way it worked when similar energy changes were balloted under LEED v2.2 and LEED 2009, pointed out an attendee at the Q&A at the end of the session.
In the past, the speaker noted, the updates were simpler, increasing the minimum number of points that needed to be earned rather than changing thresholds. “What’s the reasoning behind that?” he asked.
“We thought this update needed to be more comprehensive,” Enck replied. “This time, we are pushing all projects to do more” so that LEED, even the current version, is “pushing projects at the high end toward zero.”
LEED v5 is taking shape
Although Enck announced these changes, the main focus of the session was actually LEED v5. I’ll post a lot on that tomorrow, but for now here’s a sneak preview. LEED v5 will focus on:
- Scaling market transformation through a radical rethinking of LEED for Existing Buildings
- Decarbonization (operational), decarbonization (embodied), and more decarbonization (transportation)
- Adaptation and resilience embedded in the rating system instead of marginalized in pilot credits
- Diversity, equity, and inclusivity also moving out of the pilot credit zone
- Ecosystems and regenerative development
“There’s a common understanding that LEED needs to change in order to address the challenge of these times,” said Sarah Talkington, new chair of the LEED Steering Committee. That means “not just rewriting the credits,” she said, but taking a whole new approach.
Alluding to the morning keynote with Jane Fonda, Talkington added, “We can’t move forward without a just transition” away from fossil fuels. Our movement, she said, needs to create “green jobs that have dignity” and provide “a bigger tent where more people feel welcome and included in this movement.”
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