LEED Version 3: a big chance in building certification.On April 27, 2009, the United States Green Building Council ("USGBC") will launch a new Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design ("LEED") rating system, which will alter the landscape of green building design and construction in the United States.
LEED, which was developed by the USGBC has become a leading certification system for green buildings, is widely used for a variety of projects.
Until recently, LEED had been evolving by adopting new rating systems for each specific type of green building.
The result was a number of rating systems, including LEED New Construction; LEED Existing Buildings; LEED Commercial Interiors; LEED Core and Shell; LEED Schools; LEED Retail; LEED Healthcare; LEED Homes; and LEED Neighborhood Development. Each of these separate rating systems has its own criteria and requires different processes certify every building.
In an effort to streamline this process and provide more comprehensive and effective planning tools, the USGBC has promulgated LEED Version 3, which will take effect on April 27, 2009. LEED Version 3 will incorporate all of the previously disjointed LEED rating systems and will provide a single rating system to cover all buildings seeking to be LEED certified. LEED Version 3 will also transfer responsibility for the administration of the LEED Program from the USGBC to a new entity, the Green Building Certification Institute ("GBCI"). The GBCI is designed to increase the speed and capacity of the certification process for new green buildings.
The USGBC has highlighted three major changes in LEED Version 3 from the previous LEED iterations. First, LEED Version 3 will focus on harmonization.
As discussed, all previous LEED rating systems will be incorporated into one comprehensive system. Furthermore, any previously independent criteria that applied specifically to one type of building will, to the extent possible, now be distilled to focus on the most effective common denominator, placing actual results in front of specific design elements.
Second, LEED Version 3 assign different point values based on the ability of a building's design to achieve its desired environmental result.
The USGBC has prioritized the environmental effects that LEED certified buildings should mitigate and assigned greater point values to those areas, such as climate change and indoor air quality, which it believes to be the most pressing. Finally, LEED Version 3 will provide for regional credits, allowing project teams to earn extra credit for regionally significant improvements to their green buildings. For example, in projects located in desert areas, project sponsors will be able to obtain additional credits for design features which encourage water conservation, while those projects being developed in more urban areas, will receive additional points for design elements that reduce smog.
After its launch on April 27, 2009, LEED Version 3 will allow sixty days for developers to proceed, at their own election, with the new LEED Version 3 or to continue under the previous iterations of LEED.
Within one-hundred-and-eighty days, all projects certified under previous versions of LEED will have the option to convert to LEED Version 3 without paying any registration fee. One-hundred-and-eighty days after April 27, 2009, LEED Version 3 will be in full force and effect and all other LEED versions will be subsumed into this new initiative.
The USGBC and its LEED rating system have been at the forefront of the standardization of green building certification. In light of the significance of LEED Version 3's changes, individuals and companies working in the construction and design of green buildings should familiarize themselves with LEED Version 3's new procedures and criteria and be prepared to design and construct their buildings accordingly.
BY KEVIN WALSH
CERTILMAN BALIN ADLER & HYMAN, LLP