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It's been three years since the last holistic LEED overhaul, but the entire suite of rating systems, from New Construction to Neighborhood Development, is getting a big update this year. LEED 2012 is scheduled to be released at the U.S. Green Building Council's annual Greenbuild show in October.
Here's a preview of a few significant changes that will most impact facility managers:
1. Every credit in the LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance rating system will be rewritten to include both an Establishment and a Performance requirement. The Establishment part of each credit will include requirements that are "static and foundational," like creating policies. The Performance requirement is "dynamic and recurring," like audits, surveys or energy use. "The hope behind the new credit structure is to ensure the fact that a building is executing all its policies," says Brendan Owens, USGBC's vice president of technical development, LEED. "We're really driving at ensuring that the policies do what they say they will."
2. There will be several new credit categories in the LEED for New Construction rating system, but the one with the most potential impact for facility managers is one called Performance. "We're putting heavy emphasis on the idea that the potential of projects is just that: potential," says Owens. "We want project teams to focus on performance and set up the building for ongoing success. The hope is that the connection between construction and operations will put in place a mindset shift; a focused, deliberate emphasis on successful operations."
3. Various categories and credits in all rating systems will be re-weighted. The changes won't be as dramatic as they were from the various versions of LEED to the LEED 2009 version, says Owens. But some categories that will get more emphasis in credit weightings include climate change, human health and water resources.
4. Finally, Owens says LEED will definitely make more use of technology to streamline and automate the submission and certification process. "The ways project teams engage with LEED will be much easier," he says.
— Greg Zimmerman, executive editor
After a one-year transition period, new ADA standards will become mandatory for all renovations, new construction and readily achievable barrier removal projects on March 15, 2012.
The 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design were adopted by the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Sept. 10, 2010. For projects that had a permit or commenced construction (if a permit wasn't required) between March 15, 2011, and March 15, 2012, facility managers had a choice: a project could follow either the 2010 standards or the original 1991 standards. But as of March 15, 2012, all new construction projects must follow the 2010 standards.
Although the 2010 standards are currently optional for construction projects, they also contain new requirements for policies and procedures that affect all public accommodations and that have been enforceable since March 15, 2011. These include policies on the availability of accessible seating and ticketing policies, policies on reservations for accessible guest rooms in transient lodging, policies on the use of service animals, and policies on the use of wheelchairs and other power-driven mobility devices.
Those requirements for policies and procedures are just as important as the ADA standards affecting the bricks and mortar. An organization that doesn't have its policies and procedures in line could wind up in court — or talking to DOJ — just as readily as if physical barriers had not been removed.
For more on the new ADA standards, go to facilitiesnet.com/12224bom
Joan Weiss Stein is president and CEO of Accessibility Development Associates, Inc. (ADA, Inc.), a Pittsburgh-based national ADA consulting firm. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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