Tuesday, May 20, 2008

LEED 2009 Open for Public Comments

The U.S. Green Building Council has released LEED 2009 for public comment. You don't have to be a member of the organization to participate. The goal of the US Green Building Council's LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Building Rating System is to transform the built environment by providing a tool to measure building performance. Since its launch in 2000, LEED has been applied to over 10,000 projects and over 3.5 billion square feet of buildings.

Designed by committees of volunteers and technical experts from many disciplines, LEED has been a balancing act between doing too much to be widely accepted and doing too little to make a difference. It is criticized for being too tough and expensive and for being too easy and not going far enough to fix the monumental problems we are facing in this generation.

One of the reasons LEED is so popular, however, is the fact that it is a living, growing, dynamic system that continues to evolve and improve. Each new rendition addresses old issues and creates new ones and the growing legions of USGBC members around the world pitch in and point to the goals for the next version. Growth in LEED membership has been exponential and the annual Greenbuild Conferences have become perhaps too popular as they have doubled in attendance each year. The USGBC Indiana Chapter grew from 80 to 232 members in 2007.

If you are not a member of USGBC, consider joining one of the fastest growing non-profit groups in the world. Or, you can feel free to read the latest version and comment on what you think is too tough or not tough enough.

If you are familiar with LEED, this is a good time to get a preview of changes in store for the next version. Some of the changes you'll see in LEED 2009 include:

  • Greater credit alignment and harmony among the various flavors of LEED for different building types. Prerequisites will become more standardized allowing credits to become more specialized to fit a larger spectrum of building types.
  • Set schedule for development of future versions. Expect a more predictable cycle of changes more like building code adoptions. (LEED is not code, however, it is a voluntary rating system).
  • Environmental/human impact credit weightings have been changed to more accurately reflect the true potential of various strategies to positively or negatively impact the environment or human health as revealed by scientific research and feedback from expert members.
  • Recognition of regional differences regarding which credits may be the most critical. For example, water efficiency may be more of a factor in Phoenix than in Seattle. Project teams may select bonus points based on a project's location.

If you want to learn more about LEED 2009, USGBC will be hosting a series of LEED 2009 Webinars. The first two begin Thursday, May 22 at 11 AM -12 PM and 1 PM to 2 PM EST.

Or, you can read through and comment on the documents. The public comment period ends at 5 PM Pacific time on June 22.

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