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LEED v4.1: “Not a Structural Change”

Version 4.1 for BD+C and ID+C, coming out in December, is about creating “stepping stones,” not about changing the fundamentals.
Paula Melton
November 15, 2018

I sat down with Melissa Baker of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) at Greenbuild to talk about LEED v4.1 for Building Design and Construction (BD+C) and Interior Design and Construction (ID+C). Baker is senior vice president for technical core. Here’s what I found out.

First, the timeline: USGBC will release a draft of the rating system in December. You’ll have a month to peruse that while they build up the registration and submittal infrastructure. The beta will start in January 2019.

Stepping stones

LEED v4.1 for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance has already been out for a while, and it is almost like a whole new rating system, with “data as documentation,” as Baker put it, using the Arc platform. That kind of radical shift is not in the cards for BD+C and ID+C, however.

“We have talked about idea of adding stepping stones for credits that haven’t gotten the uptake that we’d like to see,” Baker told LEEDuser. The changes are focused on “see[ing] credit utilization continue to rise.”

Energy and carbon

One of the larger planned changes will be in the Energy & Atmosphere category, where carbon will now be a metric. “There is now an option to document both the prerequisite and credit using energy cost (ASHRAE 90.1 2016) or greenhouse gas emissions” for Minimum Energy Performance and Optimize Energy Performance, Baker said. “It’s a big change, and we’re really excited about it.”

Also in energy: you will now be able to “take credit for renewables” in your energy calculations directly, Baker noted, not just in separate credits.

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The Rainwater Management credit in v4—which emphasizes low-impact development, or LID—has been a tough one for projects, with “pretty stringent thresholds,” Baker said. (This is especially true given some of the rules about things like green roof runoff.)

The thresholds will become more realistic under v4.1, she said. There will also be a compliance path for zero-lot-line projects, which typically don’t have space for green infrastructure.

Materials and resources

The industry has been on tenterhooks about the Materials & Resources credits under 4.1.

“Manufacturers have invested in the strategies we put out there,” pointed out Baker, who said USGBC is not interested in moving the goal posts on them now that environmental product declarations (EPDs) and Health Product Declarations (HPDs) are getting momentum.

“This is not a structural change; it’s a refinement of content and reinforcing the strategies we put out before,” she said. “I hope that’s reassuring for people.”

Baby steps from v4 to v4.1

Not ready to take the leap and beta-test v4.1—but liking what you see? Baker said there will be opportunities for v4 projects to pursue v4.1 credits, too. Stay tuned for more on which credits you can achieve for your v4 project—and more to come on v4.1 in December.

We’ll be coordinating a webinar on the topic soon.


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January 28, 2019 - 4:46 pm

Find complete v4.1 redlines, resources, tracked changes documents, and instructions on how to substitute credits on the v4.1 portal: 


December 18, 2018 - 1:57 pm

There are complete drafts now available on the USGBC website. https://new.usgbc.org/leed-v41

December 3, 2018 - 9:14 am

I've been told the complete v4.1 credits will be posted on the USGBC website on January 4th, 2019. This includes the MR credit category. LEED v4.1 BD+C and ID+C is expected to be in BETA for the entirety of 2019.  

November 30, 2018 - 2:50 pm

We have just started a new forum on v4.1 that you can use to discuss changes and thoughts.

November 29, 2018 - 9:48 am

Hopefully the M&R category will also be posted soon.

November 27, 2018 - 9:14 am

Thanks, Stacey!

November 21, 2018 - 4:28 pm

We discovered the credit language is posted in the online credit library for everyone’s reference: https://www.usgbc.org/credits/new-construction/v4.1

November 21, 2018 - 9:01 am

Hi, Stacey! I was told December, but if you see a draft or redline, please share ASAP. :-)

November 21, 2018 - 4:29 pm

The credit language is posted in the online credit library for everyone’s reference: https://www.usgbc.org/credits/new-construction/v4.1