As seen in Albany-based Business Review.

Developers of commercial buildings would have to abide by a new set of rules to get LEED certification under changes being considered by the U.S. Green Building Council.

The new rules would streamline the process for achieving LEED certification and put greater emphasis on saving energy and reducing carbon emissions.

"The credits were re-weighted to encourage people to go after those that are going to change the building's performance," said Judith Webb, a spokeswoman for the U.S. GBC in Washington, D.C.

A 30-day public comment period on the proposed rules ended in late June. Another comment period will begin sometime in August. The changes would ultimately have to be approved by the 16,000-plus members of the U.S. GBC. That vote could occur in October.

If approved, the new rules would take effect in January.

Rick Pfielsticker, a LEED-accredited architect at Einhorn Yaffee Prescott Architecture & Engineering in Albany, N.Y., said the changes would bring the point system in line with the push toward improving energy efficiency.

"The way energy costs have risen, this is a good thing," Pfielsticker said.

EYP has designed nearly a dozen buildings that have received LEED certification, he said. Many more meet the U.S. GBC standards but developers don't want to pay the fees to become certified, he said.

LEED certification was created in 2000 to recognize buildings that reduce energy and water consumption, improve indoor air quality and promote sustainable site development. Points are awarded based on a number of factors. The greater the point total, the more prestigious the designation. Platinum is the highest rung on the ladder.

More than 1,500 buildings have received certification, and more than 11,000 are seeking it.

Certifications are available in eight categories: new construction, existing buildings, commercial interiors, core and shell, retail, schools, health care and homes. Another category, for neighborhood developments, is in the pilot stage.

Under the proposed changes, the maximum points available in each of the seven commercial categories would be 110 (the changes would not affect the home category).

In order to attain certification for new construction, a project would need 40 points. Silver would require 50 points, gold 60 points and platinum 80 points, according to Webb.

Under the current system, the maximum for new construction is 69 points; LEED certification is awarded for 26 points.