LEED Goes 3.0 — and They Ain't Joking 'Round

LEED version 3.jpg

Graphic from USGBC

The USGBC, and their insanely popular rating system LEED, have been on the frontlines of the green building movement for quite a while. Everyone has taken a shot at them at least once. There’s all the talk about how the credits are weighted incorrectly, or that a LEED rated building doesn’t always mean it’s a green building. For all the shortcomings of the older system, the USGBC, better or worse, has been a major contributor to putting GREEN into the lexicon of every developer, real estate owner and building professional in the United States (and other countries). Their new approach to rating the greenness of a building is overcoming some of those pesky complaints. Actually, with the release of newest version of LEED, all those naysayers may get left in the dust!Launched in April 2009, the official name of the new system is LEED 2009 - it is one of the three major components that make up LEED Version 3, or LEED v3.0. The changes within LEED rating system reflects the rapid advancements in building science and technology and provides incentives for strategies that have greater positive impacts on energy efficiency and CO2 emissions reductions, among other priorities. The other components of LEED v3 include a faster, smarter and easier-to-use LEED Online (the tool for managing the LEED registration and certification process) and a new building certification model administered by the Green Building Certification Institute through a network of internationally recognized independent ISO-accredited certification bodies.

New Kid of the Block
One big difference is how credits are weighed. In the past, a project was awarded the same number of points for installing a commuter bike rack as it was for, say, optimizing energy by 10% or reducing water usage by 20%. Now credits will weighed based on the degree to which the strategy improves the environmental and human health. Plus, the USGBC has put more importance on what they consider matters most – energy efficiency and CO2 reductions. The process the organization went through to prioritize each credit was extensive…first, evaluating all points against 13 environmental impact categories and then assigning a value based on how the credit mitigates impact. The end result is that LEED v3.0 is looking at the BIG picture while helping assess individual buildings. Moreover, it’s a little more difficult to get a building rated because LEED 2009 has taking on a more Système d’International of a 100-point scale versus the earlier more American-styled 69-point scale.

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