This past June, after a year delay, members of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) voted to adopt LEED v4, the latest update to the green building rating system.

Last summer, the USGBC decided to postpone the ballot for a new rating system after building industry professionals balked at the amount of drastic changes proposed in the revisions. In addition, there was opposition from trade associations, upset that their products did not receive the same incentives as other building materials.

“As LEED continues to have greater impact in the marketplace, it has a direct impact on some product manufacturers and suppliers,” says Steve Ashkin, president of the Bloomington, Ind.-based The Ashkin Group. “The USGBC considered the tradeoffs and the different stakeholders that have come to the table. As a result, the council took more time to get it right.”

Despite speculation of an unsuccessful outcome, the final overall vote was 80 percent in favor of adopting the new version.

LEED v4 aims to improve seven “impact categories,” including enhancing human health and protecting water resources. The USGBC recognizes that cleaning plays a role in these areas and gives this industry prominence in the standard. Adhering to the cleaning criteria can earn buildings six points toward certification. These six credits can account for 15 percent of the overall basic certification.

Many building owners and facility executives who pursue LEED go after the cleaning credits because they are a cost-effective and uncomplicated way to earn certification. However, that in no way means they get off easy. LEED: Existing Buildings Operations & Maintenance v4 is even more stringent than LEED 2009 and building service contractors will need to beef up their green cleaning programs to comply.

“This update of LEED builds on the past while offering new requirements, preparing all LEED projects to achieve higher levels of building performance and positive environmental outcomes,” says Scot Horst, senior vice president of LEED, USGBC, in a news release. “This newest version of LEED challenges the market to make the next leap toward better, cleaner, healthier buildings.”

LEED EBOM v4 will launch this fall, coinciding with the USGBC’s Greenbuild convention in November. Building service contractors can immediately begin updating their green cleaning programs to meet the new guidelines.

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Green Cleaning Loses LEED EBOM Credit