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Last week at the annual Greenbuild International Conference and Expo, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) announced proposed updates to the LEED v4 green building certification program to more directly address greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. The updates raise thresholds in LEED v4 to encourage greater energy performance and emissions reductions, aligning LEED v4 with the rigor of LEED v4.1, which increased energy performance requirements upon its release in 2018.

“From day one, USGBC has been committed to continuous improvement in green building performance. The new updates to LEED v4 reaffirm that reducing climate change-related emissions is core to LEED,” said Peter Templeton, president and CEO, USGBC. “These updates ensure LEED continues to drive market leadership in addressing energy use and climate change across the built environment.”

LEED v4 initially focused on reducing energy demand through usage and efficiency. Meanwhile, LEED v4.1 introduced energy metrics on cost and greenhouse gas emissions, a first for LEED. Together, both LEED v4 and LEED v4.1 take on the evolving needs of the market and build on previous versions of the LEED rating system.

With the change, LEED for Building Design and Construction (BD+C) and LEED for Interior Design and Construction (ID+C) projects will be able to demonstrate improvement in energy performance with metrics allowed in either LEED v4 (source energy) or LEED v4.1 (energy cost or greenhouse gas emissions).

USGBC will post the updated LEED v4 requirements for public comment this month. Final updates would be presented to the USGBC membership for ballot approval and would go into effect for projects registered after the published effective date of the changes.

The next version of the LEED rating system will enter the development phase in January 2023. It will be guided by the Future of LEED Principles, which were developed after months of conversations that engaged the global LEED community. LEED is powered by a community of volunteers that represent a spectrum of industries and professional expertise working groups and consensus committees. These volunteer groups will ensure a spectrum of knowledge and capacity as the work moves forward on LEED v5. The call for volunteers will open in December 2022.