U.S. Green Building Council Perspective
LEED 2012: Light At The End of the Tunnel
By Doug Gatlin, Vice President, Market Development, USGBC
After years of preparation, more than 20,000 public comments and the involvement of countless green building project teams, LEED 2012, the latest update to the LEED green building program, is almost here. The new iteration of LEED represents a critical push forward for the green building industry.
While the process of launching LEED 2012 involves thousands of stakeholders and many stages of development, it's a worthwhile effort that will raise the bar for green building projects, and reflect important industry movement.
"Leaders always step up," said U.S. Green Building Council president and CEO Rick Fedrizzi in a recent LEED 2012 live Twitter chat.
That's exactly what we have seen the incredible green building community do over the past months, submitting crucial feedback on the LEED 2012 drafts during public comment periods, testing innovative LEED pilot credits, and fueling the green building conversation across social media. The anticipation grows as we move closer and closer to launching LEED 2012 at Greenbuild this November.
That idea of "stepping up" applies aptly to the realm of existing buildings. USGBC announced in early 2012 that LEED for Existing Buildings project square footage surpassed that of new construction, signaling a significant shift in the industry's approach to green building. As existing building projects and green retrofits become a central focus of the sustainability movement, it's important that LEED evolves, providing new approaches for this project sector. This is exactly what LEED 2012 seeks to accomplish.
Changes in LEED 2012 include increased technical rigor, ranging from a new Location and Transportation credit category to more rigorous water efficiency measures. New market sectors will allow data centers, warehouses and distribution centers, hospitality, existing schools, existing retail and mid-rise residential to partake in LEED. Additionally, LEED 2012 includes a revised point distribution aligned around impact categories, which are:
- Reduce contribution to global climate change
- Enhance individual human health, well being and vitality
- Protect and restore water resources
- Protect and restore habitat and ecosystem services
- Promote sustainable and regenerative material resource cycles
- Build a green economy
- Enhance our communities through social equity, environmental justice and improved quality of life
For project teams who are eager to dive in to the future of LEED now, the LEED Pilot Credit Library represents a way for project teams to pilot innovative green building concepts and share feedback. Of particular interest to existing buildings projects will be Energy Jumpstart, or Pilot Credit 67: a Pilot Alternative Compliance Path for EA Prerequisite 2 in LEED 2009 for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance. The pilot prerequisite is geared toward older and historical buildings, which typically have trouble meeting the traditional prerequisite's mandatory Energy Star rating of 69.
With the Energy Jumpstart pilot credit, projects must show an energy improvement of 20 percent over a 12 month period as compared to a three-year baseline, ultimately qualifying the project for certification at the Certified level, with the opportunity to recertify at a higher level. This is a key example of how LEED is evolving to remove barriers for specific project types, and becoming more accessible for all existing buildings projects.
For more information on LEED 2012 rating systems drafts and how to get involved, visit usgbc.org/LEED2012.