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Green Building Council Reveals Economic Plan

Monday, May 18, 2020

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The U.S. Green Building Council recently announced a new strategy to support industry recovery efforts in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The path, entitled “Healthy People in Healthy Places Equals a Healthy Economy," aims to “leverage LEED and the community implementing the rating system to support buildings and communities in a post-pandemic world.”

“USGBC and its thousands of member organizations are focused on getting the economy back on track and on demonstrating that we can provide a foundation that supports people, businesses and communities,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, President and CEO of USGBC.

“By helping everyone understand the role a LEED-certified building can have in creating healthy spaces, we can help rebuild public trust, stimulate the economy and ultimately bring about a healthier standard of living for all.”

The Plan

Under the “Healthy People in Healthy Places Equals a Healthy Economy strategy,” the USGBC will update strategies in LEED v4.1 that support indoor environmental quality, cleaning, occupant comfort, operations, better materials and risk management, while introducing new approaches given the current public health crisis.

The council will also be taking the following actions:

  • Introduce new LEED strategies: In the next two weeks, LEED will launch new pilot credits to support social distancing, nontoxic surface cleaning, air quality and infection monitoring.
  • Form CEO Advisory Councils: USGBC will form Regional CEO Advisory Councils to advise and support USGBC’s CEO on how the organization, its programs and the building and construction industries can prioritize sustainability in a post-pandemic world.
  • Accelerate USGBC Equity: Announced at Greenbuild Atlanta in 2019, USGBC will accelerate the implementation of its USGBC Equity program to better address the social, health and economic disparities within communities. A listening event is scheduled for May 28-29 to kick start this effort.
  • Call for ideas: USGBC will launch a call for ideas this week to hear perspectives from the broader market on how LEED and healthy spaces can evolve given the current public health crisis.
  • Adapt review process: GBCI, the certifying body for LEED and other green business certification programs, will amend its LEED review process immediately to incorporate the lessons learned over the last two months from COVID-19, to ensure projects that are currently undergoing LEED certification can dynamically transition and make their spaces healthier.
  • Publish guidance reports: USGBC will publish a series of best practice guidance reports to help project teams assist their occupants as they reenter their spaces.

“We know that LEED is the key to a prosperous future,” said Ramanujam.

“Sustainability is central to creating jobs, saving energy and saving money, all of which are part of the backbone of a strong economy. But strong economies must also support the people who make them run. Going forward, we will prioritize our efforts to build trust in people that their buildings and spaces are healthy and positively impacting their communities.”

LEED v4.1

The newest iteration of LEED standards, LEED v4.1, was unveiled in April 2019 and recognizes leadership by emphasizing not only integrated design, social equity and human health factors, it also looks at performance monitoring.

For the residential market, LEED v4.1 combines aspects from four previously existing LEED homes rating systems—LEED for Low-Rise Homes, LEED for Mid-Rise Homes, LEED for Core and Shell and LEED for New Construction—to deliver three revamped rating systems, which include LEED v4.1 Residential: New Single-family Homes, LEED v4.1 Residential: New Multifamily Homes and LEED v4.1 New Multifamily Homes Core and Shell.

According to the Council, the updated rating system is designed to make the decision to implement LEED easier for residential projects. Now, LEED credits that have a higher value to home owners and residents are prioritized, such as health and well-being improved comfort, energy and water savings, green and healthy materials. Options have also been added to existing LEED credits that lower both hard and soft costs to achieve certification.

“And recognizing the unique circumstances of international projects, LEED v4.1 Residential is also now more applicable to international projects, which we envision as a key growth area for residential in the future,” the USGBC said. “The updated rating system is further localized to meet the unique needs of different markets.”

For the LEED for Cities and LEED for Communities rating systems, LEED v4.1 expands on the earlier performance-based approach to deliver a framework to support plan, design, operation and performance management phases of both new and existing cities and communities.

The rating systems align with all the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals and incorporate practices from other systems, such as the previously integrated STAR Community Rating System, and the PEER, TRUE, EDGE and SITES programs.


Tagged categories: Asia Pacific; COVID-19; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Health & Safety; Health and safety; Latin America; LEED; North America; Regulations; Safety; United States Green Building Council (USGBC); Z-Continents

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