LEED Version 4 Has Arrived!

GRW provided A/E design services and managed the LEED documentation for the new LEED Silver-certified Ohio Army National Guard Joint Armed Forces Reserve Center (60,902 SF) and Field Maintenance Shop (24,963 SF) complex in Springfield, OH. The photo above shows the main entry space of the reserve center building, which serves both the Ohio Army National Guard and U.S. Army Reserves.

The latest version of the LEED rating system includes eight new prerequisites, several new credits, and changes to most of the existing credits. These changes have led many to call this latest update the most extensive change to the rating system to date. In fact, Rick Fedrizzi, CEO and President of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), according to ArchDaily, has described the newest version of the LEED rating system as a “quantum leap.”

The LEED rating system was first developed in 1998 for the commercial building industry, and has since gone through numerous updates continuously evolving and transforming the overall construction marketplace.

The latest update, LEED v4, released in November of 2013, contains two new credit categories, one for demonstrated use of an integrative design process and another for location and transportation. The Location and Transportation (LT) credit category is derived but now separated from the Sustainable Sites (SS) category. The LT credit considers the existing features of the project site and how the infrastructure affects occupant’s behavior, whereas the SS credit now specifically addresses on-site ecosystem related services.

A number of new prerequisites have been added to LEED v4, (note that all related prerequisites are required to obtain LEED Certification) and include the following:

  1. Integrative Project Planning and Design: Healthcare projects are required to develop a health mission statement and incorporate it into the Owner’s Project Requirements (OPR). A LEED Charrette shall be conducted.
  2. Environmental Site Assessment: A phase 1 environmental site assessment is now required for school and healthcare projects.
  3. Outdoor Water Use Reduction: The project’s landscape water must be reduced a minimum of 30% from the calculated baseline during the site’s peak watering month.
  4. Building Level Water- Metering: All buildings are required to install permanent water meters that measure the total potable water use for the building and grounds. The metered data must be compiled into monthly and annual summaries and shared with the USGBC for a five-year period.
  5. Building Level Energy Metering: All buildings are required to install building-level energy meters or sub meters that can be aggregated to provide building level data representing total building energy consumption (electricity, natural gas, chilled water, steam, fuel oil, propane, biomass, etc.), and commit to sharing this data with the USGBC for a five-year period.
  6. Construction and Demolition Waste Management Plan: New construction building projects will be required to develop and implement a construction and demolition waste management plan that establishes waste diversion goals, outlines the method for diversion and provides a final report detailing diversion rates.
  7. PBT Source Reduction - Mercury: Healthcare projects will be required, as part of the project’s recycling collection, to identify products containing mercury and the methods for handling and disposing of products that contain mercury.
  8. Minimum Acoustic Performance: School projects have sound decibel limits for HVAC equipment and exterior noise. Core learning spaces and classrooms have reverberation time requirements, which must be met depending upon the size of the space.

The new credits introduced in LEED v4 and the changes to existing credits are too numerous to cover fully in this brief article, but some highlights include:

  • Using demand response strategies to control the building’s energy use
  • The use of verified life cycle analysis data to assess a product’s environmental impact
  • The use of environmental product declarations for assessing the impact of a product on human health.

In reviewing LEED v4, it is apparent the new requirements have upped the ante and it will be considerably more involved to reach the same levels of building certification. Take for example the Optimize Energy Performance Credit. This credit worth up to 20 of the 110 possible points will be changing standards from ASHRAE 90.1 - 2007 to ASHRAE 90.1 - 2010. A quantitative analysis conducted by the department of energy estimated an 18.2 percent savings in energy cost, based on national average commercial energy costs for electricity and natural gas. From a LEED standpoint, this means it will take an increasing amount of energy cost savings to obtain the same amount of points previously awarded. For example, a project that obtained a 30% betterment of ASHRAE 90.1 2007 would obtain 10 points under LEED v2009, but the same project would only obtain 4 points under ASHRAE 90.1 2010 in LEED v4. To accomplish the new goal, it may be necessary to consider more sophisticated HVAC systems and controls in the design of a project.

The change to LEED v4 is so dramatic, that the USGBC has allowed projects to register for either LEED v2009 or LEED v4 until June of 2015. USGBC also has developed a free webinar that gives an overview to the changes in LEEDv4. While the challenges are apparent, the resulting achievements will lead to even greater sustainability in the sites, infrastructure, and buildings we work on with each of our clients.

Do you have questions about implementing LEED v2009 or LEED v4 in your next project? Feel free to contact our in-house LEED expert, Jimmy Piper, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, at 859-223-3999 or jpiper@grwinc.com