The fifth and final public comment session for the new Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standard that will replace the current LEED 2009 (aka LEED v3) standard ended earlier this month. LEED v4 is intended to address one of the major criticisms of LEED v3, which is that it is a design tool that lacks technical rigor to serve as a performance measurement tool. LEED v4 responds to this criticism with credit categories focusing on integrated design and life cycle analysis of materials and an increased emphasis on measurement and performance, including enhanced building commissioning. 

LEED is a leading standard for certifying “green” (sustainable) built environments (from home to single buildings to neighborhoods) and is developed and promoted by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGCB). LEED is a credit or point based rating system that gives building owners and operators the tools to assess green building design, construction, operations and maintenance. LEED certified buildings are designed to lower operating costs and increase asset value, reduce waste sent to landfills, conserve energy and water, improve indoor environmental quality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and qualify for tax rebates, zoning allowances and other incentives.

In addition to new credit categories that focus on integrated design and life cycle analysis, LEED v4 also recognizes demand-response and will offer a credit that rewards projects for participating in demand response programs. LEED v4 also increases the emphasis on energy and its associated impacts by allocating 20 percent of all points to building energy efficiency.

With over 21,500 public comments received in the first four public comment sessions, USGBC pushed back the release date of LEED v4 to 2013. LEED v4 has been undergoing beta testing since November 2012, but formal adoption of LEED v4 is by consensus of its members. USGBC member balloting is scheduled to begin June 1, 2013. Although LEED v3 will remain open for registration until June 1, 2015, USGBC intends to gradually ramp up incentives for users to migrate to LEED v4 once it is formally adopted. If a project is submitted under LEED v3 prior to that sunset date, project owners will have up to one additional year from the date of the design submission to submit for construction review.