5 Things You Need to Know about LEED 2012

Green Building

5 Things You Need to Know about LEED 2012

With the third public comment period now closed, LEED 2012 is about to enter the next phase of its delivery process. Starting June 1, the balloting period officially beings. In the meantime, eligible parties should opt into the Members-Only Consensus Body and pore over the latest drafts of LEED 2012 in preparation for a vote this summer.

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Butler University's LEED Gold College of Pharmacy and Health Science (COPHS) Expansion. Image property of Butler University.

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As part of the LEED 2012 Regionalization Chapter Task Force for USGBC Indiana, I have spent a considerable amount of time examining the latest drafts. I quickly ascertained that LEED 2012 will present a significant departure from the previous versions of LEED. Here are five things you need to know about LEED 2012:

1. LEED 2012 will expand into new market sectors.
The next version of LEED will offer variations of the rating system tailored for data centers, warehouses and distribution centers, hospitality, existing schools, existing retail, and mid-rise homes.

2. LEED 2012 adds considerable rigor to the rating system’s technical content.
Proposed technical changes will raise the bar significantly. The increased rigor is already prompting impassioned criticism throughout certain circles. From my vantage point, it appears that many have lost sight of the notion that once the market uptake of LEED makes certification relatively easy and cost-neutral, then it becomes necessary to increase stringency and “lead” the way toward further market transformation.

3. LEED 2012 features new credits and new categories.
The next version of LEED will introduce a realignment of credit categories that better separate LEED credits based on scale. For example, the new Location and Transportation category will feature credits that encourage development in relatively dense areas near a diversity of uses and viable alternative transportation options. The Sustainable Sites category will better emphasize the relationships between projects and ecosystems. On the other end of the spectrum, the Materials and Resources category is an example of a category that focuses specifically on the building scale.

4. LEED 2012 credit weightings have been reassessed.
Revised credit weightings will more closely align LEED with the priorities of the USGBC community. Whereas LEED 2009 weightings were based on the US EPA Environmental Impact Categories, LEED 2012 weightings are based on impact categories developed by USGBC.

5. LEED 2012 represents a shift toward a focus on building performance and on-going resource monitorization.
The consensus-based development model has always allowed LEED to respond to the needs of the market. The biggest criticism of LEED over the past several years has been its lack of focus on actual building performance. This has been addressed by several initiatives offered by USGBC over the past several years. However, LEED 2012 will take unprecedented strides toward providing measurement and performance tools that will foster on-going building performance assessment to better ensure that systems are properly maintained and optimized.

There are many other interesting aspects to LEED 2012, including its strides toward global consistency, its more robust efforts at integrating regional teams to instill greater geographic responsiveness, and its features that promote an integrated process and automated project documentation.

For more information on LEED 2012, please visit usgbc.org/leed2012

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