I wanted to follow-up on my post about Greenbuild 2013, with a closer look at the new version of the LEED rating system, LEED v4. This new version is perhaps the most thorough overhaul in the rating system to date. LEED v4 includes new market sectors such as hospitality and data centers, an increase in the number of prerequisites, an increase in the credit criteria for several credits, new impact categories such as climate change and the addition of new credits such as Demand Response. All of these are exciting factors aimed at exponentially increasing the level of green building to meet the global environmental challenges we are facing.
One of the initial goals of the LEED rating system when it was first developed was to trigger market transformation in the design and architectural product industry in order to produce healthier buildings and eliminate environmental pollution from manufacturing. Over the last 15 years this transformation has occurred with most interior material manufacturers overhauling their product lines to meet the LEED requirements. LEED v4 sees the Materials & Resources credits take the next step forward to make products and their manufacture even more environmentally friendly. We all understand that while a product might be strong in one attribute, say high recycled content, it may be lacking in many other aspects. The new Materials & Resources credit structures try to address this by emphasizing life-cycle thinking of the whole building, meaning exterior and interior products. Life cycle thinking looks at the full life of a product, from the raw material extraction and manufacturing to the installation, maintenance and end of life. Credits reward project teams for using products that disclose life-cycle assessment through an environmental product declarations (EPD), raw material and extraction data, and ingredient information. These disclosures allow project teams to make better choices in selecting building materials.
Projects may register for the LEED 2009 or LEED v4 until July 2015 when LEED v4 will be the lone option. You can learn more about these and other credits in the LEED v4 rating system on the USGBC website.