The US Green Building Council (USGBC) is revising the Leadership in Energy Environmental Design (LEED) rating system this year. LEED 2012 will focus on improving clarity (by adding more precise technical criteria) and making the system more user-friendly. Since these might be competing notions, LEED 2012 may be in for an uphill battle.
One proposed change – as a part of LEED's first major overhaul since 2009 – would establish that key equipment and procedures are implemented (i.e. energy meters and design plans), and ensure that performance remains excellent in the long term. There are now separate sections for establishment and performance ratings, and prerequisites, credits and point systems will also get revisions.
Building owners will need to audit energy usage and record other activities to demonstrate performance. The records will ensure that LEED-certified buildings are actually achieving the performance that USGBC is looking for, and not just ''checking the box'' for making an attempt or procuring technology.
LEED certifications are also expanding into new market sectors, including data centers, warehouses and distribution centers, hospitality, existing schools and retail, and residential mid-rise projects. LEED 2012 will also compete withthe new International Green Construction Code (IgCC) released in March, a new regulatory framework with mandatory standards that has already been adopted by some American cities and states.
Another new component of LEED 2012 will be a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA))to determine environmental impacts of material usage and waste disposal. LCAs examine environmental impacts (like greenhouse gas emissions, water usage and waste generation) associated with all stages of a product's life. This includes the processing of the raw materials that comprise the product, its manufacture, transportation to markets, consumer or end use, any recycling or reuse, and final disposal.
The USGBC's opt-in period for members to receive ballots ended May 1, and the organization opened a fourth round of Public Comment preceding the ballot for LEED 2012, which will be open from June 1-30. Publication of the final document is planned for November 2012.