USGBC Launches LEED v4 System


Officials formally rolled out LEED v4, the newest update to the voluntary green-building rating system, Wednesday (Nov. 20) during the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo in Philadelphia.

The new rating system, approved by 86 percent of U.S. Green Building Council members in July after surviving a number of hurdles (including a name change), is billed by building and design professionals as a “game-changer.”

While LEED v4 is open for business and 122 projects are currently using the system, USGBC has also extended the LEED v2009 registration until June 1, 2015.

‘A quantum leap’

“LEED v4 is a quantum leap for LEED,” said Rick Fedrizzi, USGBC president, CEO and founding chair.

Since its debut in 1998, the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system “has fundamentally revolutionized how we design, construct, operate and maintain our buildings and communities,” he said.

“LEED has created a completely new industry of business enterprise committed to energy savings and efficiency,” Fedrizzi added.

The newest system is “a testament to the achievements of LEED project teams around the world” and the “green building community’s ambition to create significant global and local change through resource-efficient, cost-effective green buildings,” according to Fedrizzi.

The revamped rating system builds upon USGBC’s previous versions while preparing all LEED projects to perform at a higher level, officials say.

Highlighted Changes

According to rating system officials, significant changes in LEED v4 include the following.

  • New market sectors: New market sector adaptations for LEED include data centers, warehouses and distribution centers, hospitality, existing schools, existing retail and mid-rise residential projects.
  • Time-saving support tools and resources: Simplified LEED credit submittal requirements, descriptive step-by-step reference guide materials with videos and tutorials, and a more intuitive technology platform. 
  • Building performance management: LEED v4 is focused on outcomes so that building owners have a better understanding of how to manage their buildings to meet full performance potential.
  • New impact categories: Climate change, human health, water resources, biodiversity, green economy, community and natural resources.

In September, Durability + Design News examined LEED v4 credits involving paint and coatings work; see “LEED v4 Paints New Challenges” and “Paints, Transparency Awarded in LEED v4.”

First LEED v4 Certifications Recognized

In addition to the roll-out, USGBC announced the first ever LEED v4 certifications.

The Haworth Beijing Organic Showroom in Beijing, China, achieved LEED v4 Gold for its commercial interior space. The showroom is owned by Haworth, an office furniture designer and manufacturer, and the LEED process was administered by Bisagni Environmental Enterprise (BEE) Inc.

Bisagni Environmental Enterprise (BEE) Inc. blog

The world's first LEED v4 Commercial Interiors certified project is the Haworth Beijing Showroom in China. According to project details, all interior paints and coatings meet the VOC limits of the California Air Resources Board (CARB 2007), and all adhesives and sealants applied onsite meet applicable low-VOC and chemical content requirements.

1800 K St. in Washington, D.C., was awarded LEED v4 Silver. This project was certified as an existing building, is owned by Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management and the LEED process was administered by Transwestern.

Toolkit Launched for Specifiers

Along with the system debut, UL Environment, a business unit of Underwriters Laboratories, launched a LEED toolkit, which aims to assist architecture and design professionals in their product selection and specification processes.

The toolkit, which includes free CEU courses, will also help designers navigate new programs, standards and concepts in LEED v4.

UL and the USGBC recently announced an exclusive partnership centered on building product transparency and occupant health and safety.

The partnership says its first initiative is the creation of a joint Environmental Product Declaration (EPD). EPDs are a standardized way of quantifying the environmental impact of a product or system.

The joint USGBC-UL EPDs are a solution to increase transparency in building materials and products that are being used in our buildings, homes, schools, hospitals and other structures, according to the organizations.

GSA Recommendation for v2009

A long-time favorite green-building rating system for federal projects, LEED was recently forced to share the spotlight with the Green Building Institute's Green Globes system, according to a recommendation from the U.S. General Service Administration.

GSA's endorsement of both system for use in the federal system could usher in a new era of green building that LEED has dominated since 2003.

In its recommendation letter, GSA anointed GBI’s Green Globes 2010 and the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED 2009 as third-party certification systems that the federal government can use to gauge performance of its buildings.

GSA noted that the systems would be updated and it would have to formalize a process to keep current.


Tagged categories: Architecture; Certifications and standards; Color + Design; Design; Green building; Green coatings; Green design; Greenbuild; LEED v4; Low-VOC; Specification; U.S. Green Building Council; Zero-VOC

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