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USGBC Seeks Public Input on LEED 2009

May 21, 2008

By Ted Smalley Bowen

The U.S. Green Building Council is giving the public a look at the first fruits of its sweeping revision of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.

On May 19, the organization posted the working draft of LEED 2009 for a 30-day public comment period. LEED 2009 is the rating system component of a larger program referred to as LEED Version 3 (LEED v3), which will replace LEED 2.2. Other features of the new program include a revamped online project management tool and an expanded third-party certification process.

In general, LEED 2009 increases the rating system's emphasis on a building's environmental, economic and social impact, according to the USGBC. It consolidates the many LEED variants, such as the versions for new construction and commercial interiors, into a core set of requirements. Other key changes include the addition of bonus points (eventually core points) for addressing regional environmental conditions, and a methodology for reallocating points within the scoring system to give greater weight to human health and the environment. The revamp brings greenhouse gas emissions into the calculation of credits. The scale will also switch to 100 points from the current 69.

Future revisions will incorporate lifecycle analysis—a methodology that addresses the effects of material extraction and manufacturing, building construction and maintenance, and demolition and disposal. While accounting for such impacts could possibly complicate the certification process, it will not be more burdensome than generating whole building energy simulations and integrating them into building information management systems, according to Brendan Owens, vice president for LEED technical development. The lifecycle assessment component will be available for pubic comment within the next several months.

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The public can weigh in on LEED 2009 until June 22. If the remarks prompt revisions, a second comment period, lasting 15 days, will follow. If necessary, the USGBC will present a third draft and comment period before its members vote on the proposed rating system in October, according to Owens. The council plans to launch LEED v3 in January 2009.

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