LEED v4 Is a Game Changer – Are You Ready For the New LEED Certification Program?


If you’ve been in the green building industry for a while, you know that LEED 2009 was a BIG change for LEED APs and green building professionals. Now the USGBC is trying to convince the building industry that it’s time to move forward with even more innovative green building concepts. Selling a new certification hasn’t been easy, but the USGBC will be moving forward with LEED v4 sometime in 2013. LEED v4 is introducing quite a few programs, terms and concepts that are unfamiliar to even the most LEED-savvy professionals. LEED v4 changes everything. Are you ready?

New terms to look forward to: BUG ratings, LID infrastructure, BECx and spatial daylight autonomy – these are just a few of the new terms you’ll have to get familiar with. LEEDuser has combed through LEED v4 for concepts that they felt we should know more about. Here are some of the more interesting things to look forward to with this new LEED certification…

  • The new Integrative Process credit is essentially a codification of certain aspects of integrative design. This credit is meant to demonstrate how green building is an ongoing, evolving process that involves all aspects of the building systems – green building is not a one and done deal. With this credit, LEED project teams must analyze their design opportunities early in the design phase. It focuses primarily on energy and water, with a list of interdisciplinary explorations for the team to pursue. The goal is to uncover opportunities that might be missed by going through a more traditional building design process. In addition to structuring the process, the Integrative Process requirements tie this early design exercise into the commissioning process that carries through design and construction right through the occupancy phase.
  • The BD&C rating systems in LEED v4 will have a new category, Location and Transportation, to address larger-scale land-use issues. This change allows the Sustainable Sites (SS) category to focus on issues specific to the project site. SS credits with new concepts are Rainwater Management and Light Pollution Reduction. With regard to rainwater management, this credit directs LEED projects to address rain consistently throughout the year. (In contrast, the old LEED term “stormwater management” put an emphasis on managing the statistically worst storms that might occur in a year.) This new category makes you and your team think about water issues all year round and identify how those issues will affect your LEED project.
  • Entirely new approaches affecting most of the Materials and Resources (MR) category of LEED v4 are the most controversial. Although details could change again, the current draft includes key new concepts and terms that are likely to remain in one form or another. When the new version of LEED certification is released, pay particular attention to the MR category changes.
  • A software tool you should get familiar with before LEED v4 release is the Athena Impact Estimator from the Athena Sustainable Materials Institute. It’s a free tool but will be required to earn the Building Life-Cycle Impact Reduction credit in the new LEED program.

So when will the new version of LEED be available? LEED v4 will become available to project teams sometime in the late summer or fall of 2013; however, USGBC promised that LEED 2009 will remain available for new registrations until June 2015.

Want to find out even more about the new LEED certification and what to expect? Check out New Concepts of LEED v4. A $49 value, you can get this report for free when you sign up for a new LEEDuser membership! (You can read this white paper and self-report it for 1 CE credit.)

What is LEEDuser? In a nutshell, LEEDuser is an independent website offering supporting information, including templates, spreadsheets and sample completed documentation forms, to give LEED project teams a leg up. LEEDuser also offers an amazing forum where you can ask (and answer) just about any question on almost any LEED topic.

For only $99.95/year you can get your membership going – it’s well worth the price. (I know, I’ve been a member for more than 2 years now…) As a bonus for registering, we’ve worked with LEEDuser so you get a copy of the New Concepts of LEED v4  (a $49 value) for free with your new LEEDuser membership. Sign up for LEEDuser today!

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