As you have probably heard, the newest version of USGBC’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system was released in November 2013. Since October 31, 2016, all newly registered projects are required to register under the v4 rating system.

The changes from v2009 to v4 are the most significant changes since the pilot version of LEED was released in 1998. Emphasis is now being placed on building performance, with prerequisites and credit points awarded for required tracking of energy use, water use, and ventilation rates.

Behind the Changes…

You may be asking yourself, why? Why do we need to change the rating system? LEED v2009 was perfectly acceptable and effective. Why move to an adapted system? Why even bother?

First off, we’ll always need to adapt as technology changes in order to continue to grow the industry and work toward a better tomorrow. More applicable to this specific change though, is reasoning that lies between the lines of the new rating system. Yes, v2009 was working, and working well, but the overall goal of the credit system was to do less harm; the goal of v4 is to do more good. This is why there are more innovative and ambitious credits that weren’t present in v2009.

With the overhaul of the old version of the rating system, it became clear that a one-size fits all approach was not going to work going forward. In order for LEED to be flexible enough for every building type, several new rating system adaptations were created in v4.

In addition to the New Construction for Schools, Core and Shell, and Retail rating systems that were previously available, specific requirements have been developed for Healthcare, Data Centers, Hospitality, and Warehouses and Distribution Center projects. Check out this link for more information about the rating system adaptations available for BD+C projects:

Counting and Connecting…

As you may or may not have picked up, LEED v4 is geared toward a more integrative design for energy and water use. Many of the changes in the rating system depict this shift in focus.

Furthermore, and perhaps the biggest changes from v2009 to v4, are the mandatory building-level energy and metering prerequisites. Once the data has been obtained, it must also be shared with the USGBC.

The main purpose of these changes is to make building owners and managers aware of their building’s energy and water usage. This creates the opportunity to discover areas for improvement. Once the prerequisites have been met, project teams are awarded points for meeting advanced metering requirements.

A new credit under the Energy and Atmosphere category, Demand Response, is aimed at more building system automation. This is built on the idea that buildings work fairly similarly to human bodies.

We have many different systems that work in conjunction by sending signals to the brain that another system responds to. Buildings should, ideally, be doing the same. Having an automated (or semi-automated) response system allows for maximum efficiency.

The more we understand LEED v4, we grow increasingly eager to do more good!  3R currently offers an AIA-accredited training course on this topic. Give us a call if you need help navigating through the changes. And stay tuned for more v4 updates in future 3R blogs!

Resource Hyperlinks: O+M BD+C
LEED V4 User Guide