A quantum leep for LEED

The latest version of LEED V4 was announced at the Green Building International Conference in late November 2013. The new version of LEED is contesting some of the critics who say LEED buildings are not doing their part in sustainability.  LEED v4 is described by Rick Fedrizzi, the CEO and president of USGBC as a “quantum leap”. One thing that LEED v4 is doing that it wasn’t doing before is looking at how buildings are actually preforming instead of just looking at design principles. From a sustainable perspective with economics, environment and equity the newly created LEED v4 seems to provide all three. 

From my previous blog on “A plaque with removable screws” I mentioned that a major flaw with LEED certification is that after a building receives the LEED plaque then there is no more incentive to do better. The new LEED v4 has a new water and energy-metering requirement. LEED buildings now have to keep track of their water and energy consumption and report back to the USGBC. This is beneficial to both building users, and to future of the planet. Building owners will be able to determine where they can improve energy savings, and in the long run be able to save money.

Not only is this new version of LEED going to be improving the “check up” function, but it will also encourage historic preservation and adaptive re-use. Now any building that is listed as historic (either locally or nationally) will receive five points. The new energy metering system may prove the common expression, “the greenest building is the one that is already built. ”  This gives tools planner’s incentive to use historic preservation as a tool to create a more sustainable city.

One of the major criticisms of the new LEED v4 is that it is raising the bar too quickly, making it challenging to get LEED certified. But isn’t raising the bar for sustainability the right thing to do? The previous LEED system was failing in its attempt to create a more sustainable future and more of an incentive for building owners so they could charge higher rent.

Its hard to tell this early if the new LEED v4 will be successful. Based on your view of success, it could enhance the design of buildings or it make people lean towards other methods. LEED will still accept the old version until 2015, but there are many buildings attempting to get accredited by the new system. A few of these are…

leedv4 beijing

photo obtained from Shaw Contract Group

 Haworth Beijing Organic Showroom in Beijing, China was the first to gain that distinction under LEED v4.

University Place in Philadelphia was pre-certified for LEED v4. After modifications it will look like this.

leedv4 phil

Photo obtained from Eco Business

Planners will be able to utilize the new LEED v4 system by creating economic incentive for building owners who upgrade. This is the next step for LEED, by monitoring the actual energy consumption, it can do what it set out to do.