Your One Stop Shop to Understanding The Proposed LEED 2009 System Without Sifting Through 8000 Pages USGBC Material
NOTE - 03/28/09 - As the new LEED 2009 reference guides have been released, I poured through page by page to give you detailed review of the changes which can be found here. It's still worth reading below for a general introduction, but the new post reviews what was actually approved.
Well folks... just as you get comfortable with LEED 2.2 it's time to start gearing up for the release of LEED 2009 - formerly known as LEED 3.0. (I guess USGBC is taking it's cues from Autodesk, Microsoft, etc. on coming up with new naming conventions every few years to keep things "fresh"). As the resource for LEED AP's everywhere, Real Life LEED is here to give you a concise and poorly copy-edited guide of overviews of major changes and a plea for all those who like to bitch about LEED to actually submit comments and change the system!
The "LEED 2009 Vision and Executive Summary" basically states that LEED is growing at an exponential rate, will now start to be revised on a periodic basis much similar to code improvements, incorporate a "transparent environmental/human impact credit weighting" scheme, and add some form of regionalism into the point system. LEED-NC, LEED-CS, LEED-CI, LEED-EB, and LEED for Schools are all being edited under the new system.
The credits themselves are barely touched. Looking at the updates to LEED-NC, only a few things jump out at me. Your water use reductions jump from 20%/30% to 30%/40% and the 20% threshold is now a prerequisite. The EAc1 points are now based on ASHRAE 90.1-2007. The credit for CRI Green Label carpets (EQc4.3) is now expanded to include pretty much all other flooring options. There are now "bonus" points that you can earn that are dependent on the building location (see explanation below).
Other than that, the changes are mostly semantic clarifications and updated "Requirements" sections that incorporate the latest credit interpretation rulings (CIRs). You can see the updated LEED 2009 draft rating systems at the following links - all in annoying .zip format!
Credit WeightingThe easy to use 10-step weighting process (<-sarcasm) that is proposed is described in a series of utterly incomprehensible documents that can be found here. My best summary goes something like this:
The reason for the weighting change is that points were previously assigned in a less than scientific way and the USGBC would like to have a better argument for why one credit is assigned a higher point value than another. The new weightings are based on a complex system based on the EPA's "Tool for the Reduction and Assessment of Chemical and Other Environmental Impacts", aka TRACI. In an effort to provide transparency, the USGBC releases far more information about the weightings than any reasonable non-academic should be willing to digest. Credits related to energy use, water use, and transportation now have more impact on your total score. Credits related to siting (non-energy related), materials, indoor environmental quality, and waste managment have less of an impact. Overall, I think the changes make sense. Using the proposed LEED-NC point allocations, water use eekes up from 7% of the points to 10%, a number I think should go even higher. Energy use now accounts for 35% of possible points instead of 25%, and transportation credits (SSc2 and SSc4.1-4.4) make the biggest jump from 7% to 17% under the new system. Long story short, all of the systems under review will know have 110 points including 5 Innovation and Design points, 4 "Regionalization" points (see below), and 1 point for having a LEED AP, which is now separate from the other ID points. The new thresholds for certification levels are as follows:
- Certified: 40-49 points
- Silver: 50-59 points
- Gold: 60-79 points
- Platinum: 80-110 points
There is no information currently available as to what these points will look like. All I've been able to find in the documentation provided by the USGBC is that "These Regional Bonus Credits will be identified by the USGBC Chapters and Regional Councils for each “environmental zone” and a maximum of four points are available for project teams to pursue. This work is currently underway."
It sound like each USGBC Region will have the authority to create six potential bonus credits, of which you may pursue a maximum of four. This is a very good idea, though it will be interesting to see how the balloting process (if any) is handled within each region. Being from coastal South Carolina (the land of 100% humidity), I would love to credits for harvesting water from air.
Yes... I know this is a horrible photoshop effort
Public Comment Period Ends June 22nd!
Have a problem with the LEED system? Now's your chance! Be sure to comment on the draft 2009 systems before the deadline to make your voice heard. I get so frustrated when I hear people complain about LEED seeking to serve private interests when the whole process is so democratic...
What are your thoughts on the system updates? Share them with us in the comments section, after you share them with the USGBC first of course!