Energy Efficiency Projects With New LEED On The Horizon
With a new version of LEED on the horizon, it would be a natural response to be cautious about energy efficiency projects until it's official. What advice would you give FMs on the fence about starting a project now?
There has been a surprisingly amount of negativity and misinformation about the changes in the upcoming new version of LEED (v4) due out at the end of 2013. LEED has always been intended to be a tool that is used for market transformation, and as such tends to be utilized by the leaders in the industry who tend to be adaptable and forward thinking. But it's hard being a leader, and LEED is not intended to be applicable to every building. It's not a building code after all.
Every new version of LEED increases the minimum energy efficiency required in order to achieve LEED certification. And while LEED v4 is no different, the changes are by no means unattainable. LEED v2009 requires that the building achieves a minimum EPA Energy Performance Score of 69. Under LEED v4, this minimum will be increased to a score of 75. Considering that a score of 75 is also the minimum required to achieve Energy Star certification, this really isn't a huge change. Higher scores are also awarded additional points.
But for those that are on the fence and unsure what LEED version will be best for them, don't let this be a deterrent. Considering that a project needs at least one year's worth of actual energy data, certification is going to span multiple fiscal years.
This can be used to your advantage in scheduling upgrades and changes — not everything has to be done at once. And while registration for LEED v4 is anticipated to open towards the end of this year, projects will be still be able to register projects under LEED v2009 through June 1, 2015, if they choose. So there's really no reason not to start now.
Michael Kawecki is the founder and owner of Axiom Sustainable Consulting. He has been a LEED Accredited Professional since 2003, and currently holds the LEED AP BD+C, ID+C, and O+M Credentials. He is one of the founding members of the North Texas Chapter of the USGBC and served as the Chair in 2007. He was also the 2008 Chair of the South Central Regional Council of the USGBC, and became USGBC Faculty in 2011.