LEED v4.1: “Not a Structural Change”
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.
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.