LEED v4 Has Indoor and Outdoor Environment Elements, Simplified Recertification
Two areas of LEED v4 facility managers should be aware of are the indoor and outdoor environmental credits, as well as the simplified recertification.
The Indoor Environmental Quality credit category focuses on four areas of performance: air, light, sound, and occupant experience. Credits for interior lighting, daylight, and thermal comfort address improved performance from an occupant experience perspective. The emphasis on performance is echoed throughout the indoor environment category, with a credit available for regularly surveying occupant comfort and making improvements based on the results. A performance-based approach to air quality relies on ongoing testing and the use of products that minimize exposure to volatile organic compounds. A new credit, Enhanced Indoor Air Strategies, encompasses best management practices in the monitoring of indoor air quality. Along with credits for improved ventilation and a ban on smoking in all certified buildings, LEED v4 puts a premium on improved air quality for occupants.
In v4, EBOM focuses on implementing effective maintenance changes rather than changing design elements, which tends to be difficult in existing buildings. For example, the Light Pollution Reduction credit depends on shielding exterior fixtures and taking perimeter measurements, with no interior design requirements. Additionally, projects are rewarded for conserving resources if they make no alterations or furniture purchases during their EBOM certification process.
6. The Outdoor Environment
Site Management Policy, a new prerequisite in EBOM, reflects a more holistic approach to sustainable site management. LEED v4 emphasizes the potential for projects to positively impact and sustainably manage their sites, with improved clarity on how to comply with requirements.
For LEED v4 EBOM, credit achievement in the Sustainable Sites category is more flexible and performance-based than in previous versions of LEED. USGBC has added an off-site conservation option in the Site Development — Protect or Restore Habitat credit that allows projects to promote and financially support biodiversity in an off-site environment. For building sites without space available for on-site restoration, this option opens this credit to a much wider variety of projects, regardless of location.
Where possible, documentation for credits in the Sustainable Sites category has undergone a significant reduction to ensure that the focus for project teams remains on achieving credits rather than documentation.
7. Simplified Recertification
LEED v4 was created with recertification in mind. In keeping with a focus on performance, EBOM projects must recertify every five years (though they are eligible for recertification as often as every 12 months). The ongoing data tracking built into the new version will help projects document their progress and adherence to operational protocols and procedures, which is critical to ensuring that projects maintain and even improve their performance on an ongoing basis.
USGBC provides recertification guidance to help building owners and managers gauge the performance of their buildings; such guidance includes information on how to transition from LEED v2009 to LEED v4, and how to meet performance requirements for certain credits. To be as transparent as possible, the establishment (initial certification) and performance (initial and recertification) requirements are now clearly outlined within the credit language.
Recertification will focus on documenting performance, meaning projects will only have to establish static project features one time, during the initial certification, leaving time to focus on improvements in other parts of the building.
The new version of LEED puts a premium on continued leadership and ease of use. With LEED v4, USGBC is striving to make high performance a part of every building, regardless of age or use type. The launch of LEED v4 in November is critical for the next generation of LEED-certified buildings, one big step toward green buildings for all.
Brendan Owens is vice president of LEED Technical Development at the U.S. Green Building Council.