LEED 2012 and the Greenbuild Rating System Development Update

Scott Horst, Senior VP of LEED for USGBC, kicked off this session with what is starting to feel like an obligatory mea culpa about the state of LEED-Online v3 when it was launched, but quickly moved on to say that the current state of the system is strong and that the major bugs have been worked out. The session was led by Horst and included a panel composed of USGBC Staff, Joel Ann Todd (the LEED Steering Committee Chair), and the respective chairs of each of the Technical Advisory Groups for the that are responsible for developing drafts and revisions to LEED rating systems.

Development Cycle Updates

Another thing that came up is the development cycle. The standard draft, public comment, second draft, vote cycle remains for the LEED rating system updates remains, but the USGBC has moved public comment period earlier in this cycle and extended it to hopefully get more complete stakeholder involvement. The new pilot credits are vetted in a "parallel process" over at LEEDuser*, where all comments from users are examined by staff and the committees responsible for their ultimate implementation. To join the discussion, scroll down to the Pilot Credits section on this page, then click a credit and see the discussion about it near the bottom of that page... My understanding is that free registration is all that's required to comment.

As for the schedule, "This isn't an absolute that LEED 2012 will happen in 2012, but it's on a path to be approved on that cycle as of today." You may remember that with the launch of LEED 2009 the USGBC expressed its desire to update LEED on a two-year cycle, and the impression I got from panel comments was that they see a three-year cycle as more realistic. The first public comment period will extend "until the end of the year", with the second pubic comment scheduled to open July 1, 2011, and will be open "until at least August 15, 2011", with the ballot presently scheduled for August 2012. Official schedule information can be found here.

International Update

One of the more interesting tidbits to come out of Horst's comments is an update about the adoption of LEED worldwide. According to Horst, to date 10% of LEED projects by number, roughly 4,000, are registered outside the US, but when you look at registrations by square footage that number jumps to 28% of all projects. The trend is that international projects are growing relative to all projects, with 40% of the registrations by square footage year to date 2010 are outside the US. As a result, the USGBC has created a 19 country "LEED International Roundtable" that is an advisory group to the LEED Steering Committee. This group is part of a larger LEED International Program whose mission is to provide "global consistency, a regional approach, and local outreach and support."

LEED 2012 Update

This update will focus largely on explaining some of the motivation behind the updates for the LEED 2012 systems. Tristan over at BuildingGreen* has already written an excellent overview of the specific changes to the system, and I don't really see any point in recreating what's already available. I would definitely suggest checking that out if you haven't already.

Joel Ann Todd gave an overview of changes in the LEED 2012 system itself. In general there was a strong emphasis on shifting the current system of "relative performance" based credits (e.g. energy models comparing baseline to design case) to a more "absolute performance" based system (i.e. what Henry Gifford wants). Earlier in the session Horst had mentioned that for the first time, LEED projects who have entered into the Building Performance Partnership are getting a report card showing their actual annual energy use and comparing it to what was expected based on their design models.

Integrated Process - This new category is aimed at making sure that the processes used to create LEED projects Joel bluntly stated that "we probably don't have the integrated process credits right yet", so they're very keen to see the comments coming in on the first public draft.

Performance - The other new category is actually at the 'end' of the rating system, and the goal is to create a framework that ensures project teams and owners are indeed measuring the performance of their facilities after construction is complete. In the commissioning prerequisite, there is now a requirement for building envelope commissioning that was not required before.

Location and Transportation and Sustainable Sites - For the most part, the former Sustainable Sites category was divided into two groups, with the Location and Transportation category dealing more with urban integration and connectivity and the SS category focusing on site level engineering issues. This was done to reflect a growing emphasis at the USGBC on "overall community performance" instead of only building level design. They're also working to move from a "binary" point awards (i.e. Alternative transportation access is a yes/no style credit in 2009 worth 4 points, while the new system is moving towards a gradient system similar to how points are awarded for EAc1, Optimize Energy Performance). On the Sustainable Sites side, they're trying to move towards an emphasis on restoration or regeneration.

Water Efficiency - "What we realized is that plumbing and landscaping systems are not the only things using water." Metering and sub-metering are getting a stronger emphasis as a result, as well as a more in depth analysis of process water and cooling towers.

Energy and Atmosphere - "We're really trying to end this process of doing energy models at the end of the project to verify LEED credits... it's really not why you do modeling." Couldn't agree more with this, as it doesn't benefit the project unless these models are created early enough to affect the project. Also, a lot of the credits for commissioning and measurement and verification have shifted into the Performance category. The emphasis on absolute measurement was also restated. On the LEED-EB O+M side, efficiency credits have been restructured to allow projects that show significant improvement to earn points, as opposed to the current system where points are based on performance compared to other buildings. This will allow projects that are starting with really poor performance to potentially qualify as long as they make big strides, which should presumably open up the system to projects that may not have been able to get certified in the past.

Materials and Resources - There was some concern that a few credits were being achieved by too many projects, and that others weren't being used at all. These are what drove the majority of changes to the MR categories, with credits that were being achieved too much becoming more stringent and those not being achieved becoming easier to support increased market adoption. A life cycle approach is starting to make it's way into the system, but there was a need to separate interior finishes from structural components as the "big, heavy" structural materials would overwhelm any consideration of the interior choices.

Indoor Environmental Quality - The majority of the discussion on these changes revolved around the addition of an acoustics credit to LEED-NC projects and the consolidation and expansion of the Low-Emitting Materials credits. They adjusted the standard to be consistent with language in ASHRAE 189.1, which is certainly a good idea.

Innovation in Design - The only major announcement here is that the ID point for having a LEED AP on the project will now require the appropriate LEED AP specialty (e.g. to get the point for LEED-NC, LEED-CS or LEED-Schools you will need to have a LEED AP BD+C specialty). Legacy LEED APs without a specialty will maintain that credential for the rest of their lives, but it's no longer going to help them earn a point under the ID credit.

LEED Systems On the Horizon

One of the panelists covered sector-based LEED rating systems that are on the horizon. I don't have timelines for any of these and suspect they are at a minimum of a year to multiple years away. New systems on the horizon include:

  • LEED-EB for Schools
  • LEED-EB for Retail
  • LEED-Homes for Mid-Rise
  • LEED (NC/CI?) for Hospitality
  • LEED (NC/CI?) for Warehouses
  • LEED (NC/CI?) for Data Centers

Normally I would here request comments about your thoughts on these developments, but since the LEED draft is open for comment I'll instead direct you there.

*FULL DISCLOSURE - LEEDuser and BuildingGreen are a sponsor of this site.


Anonymous said...

Please keep posting. I enjoy your blog. No more flame wars I promise.

Anonymous said...

heyo - small correction for future reference: Scot Horst spells his name with one 't'.