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What’s in Store for LEED?
Second Comment Period Open for LEED 2012

By Matthew J. DeVries

In what has been unofficially called LEED 2012, the U.S. Green Building Council (“USGBC”) opened the second public comment period from August 1 to September 14, 2011 for the next version of the LEED® rating system. According to the USGBC, a public comment period helps ensure that LEED continues to be at the vanguard of innovative design construction and operation of buildings and communities.

The final version, which is expected to be released in late 2012, has some noteworthy proposed changes. First, LEED 2009 has 9 prerequisites and 49 credits, while the new draft has 15 prerequisites and 49 credits. Second, there are now 10 different categories in the new draft, as opposed to 7 categories in the prior versions. The three new categories, as well as some changes and additions to the existing categories, are explained in more detail below. Overall, these changes are either new credit categories, changes to the technical requirements, or revised point distribution.

Integrated Process (IP): This new category is intended to support and encourage project team integration required by a LEED project and to streamline the application and certification process. Following the first comment period, this credit was revised to include four sections that reward project teams for early analysis of building and site systems, various charrettes throughout the design process, and meeting training requirements for certain construction and operations personnel. In addition, the LEED AP who is assigned to the project must have relevant specialty area accreditation.

Location and Transportation (LT): This new category consists of credits from the old “Sustainable Sites” category that relate to the location of the project. It also includes provisions such as a “Bicycle Network, Storage and Shower Rooms” and “Walkable Project Site” credits. The second public comment draft includes many changes to the names of the credits to better reflect the requirements.

Sustainable Sites (SS): Language has been added to clarify “Brownfield Redevelopment” to require actual remediation of the site to meet local, state or federal cleanup standards. In fact, under the second public comment draft this credit was renamed “Brownfield Remediation.” Significantly, "Healthcare" was added to the list of applicable building types to the prerequisites for "construction activity pollution prevention" and "environmental site assessment". Other revisions are recommended to the “Protect or Restore Habitat” and the “Open Space” credits. The two storm-water credits from LEED 2009 have been rolled into one credit called “Rainwater Management.” The requirements for “Light Pollution Reduction” include a new calculation method.

Water Efficiency (WE): Although a couple credits are renamed, much of the requirements are unchanged. The new “Landscape Water Use Reduction” prerequisite applies to projects with a minimum of 1,000 square feet of exterior vegetated surface area and applies to all irrigation water, regardless of source. Another new “Appliance and Process Water Use Reduction” prerequisite seeks to reduce the burden on water supply and wastewater systems by increasing the water efficiency of appliances and water-consuming processes. Finally, there is a new credit for “Cooling Tower Makeup Water,” which seeks to conserve water used for cooling tower makeup while controlling microbes and corrosion in the water system.

Energy and Atmosphere (EA): There are some wording changes and revisions to threshold requirements throughout this category. Notably, “Refrigerant Management” prerequisites for all rating systems were eliminated from the first public comment period, but reintroduced for the second public comment period. The “Minimum Energy Performance” prerequisite changes how energy costs and savings are calculated, while the "Optimize Energy Performance" credit changes some of its metrics and requires that modeling be used in design as opposed to performance compliance. Finally, a new credit for Demand Response is intended to reduce regional carbon emissions and improve optimization of electric generation, transmission and distribution resources.

Materials and Resources (MR): Some of the wording of the provisions in this category have changed, but most of the requirements remain the same as in the LEED 2009 provisions. The “Recycled Content” prerequisite, which was added for the first public comment period, has now been eliminated due to lack of market support. Construction and Demolition Waste Management Planning is another new prerequisite, that now requires a specific waste management policy. A few other new credits were deleted from the second draft, while many new credits appear, such as nonstructural materials and environmentally preferable products.

Indoor Environmental Quality (EQ): The most notable change in this category transforms the "Construction IAQ Management Plan" into a prerequisite. Low Emitting Interiors is a new credit that addresses the material concentrations of contaminates. The interior is now split into five systems (floors, ceilings, walls, insulation and furniture) for credit calculations. Also, the Daylight and Quality Views credits have major revisions. Significantly, the second draft of the prerequisites attempts to be more harmonize with the ASHRAE standards.

Performance (PF): This category has a new prerequisite for Water Metering, which intends to promote water efficiency by providing accurate consumption data to building managers. Notably, there is a another new prerequisite for "Building-Level Energy Metering", which is set up to meter, track and share building-level energy resource use. One such way is to participate in the USGBC’s Building Performance Partnership for a five year period. The "Fundamental Commissioning and Verification" prerequisite adds some major commissioning agent tasks from EA category. Finally, there are some additional provisions to address the verification provisions of LEED 2009 under the new "Reconcile Projected and Actual Energy Performance" credit, the intent of which is to provide for the ongoing accountability of the building energy consumption over time.

Other notable changes include rewording of the Innovation (IN) credit. For LEED-Schools, the project can now achieve up to four points for innovation. Also, the Regional Priority (RP) credits, which are identified by regional councils and chapters, now include priorities for social equity and public health. If you want more information about the new changes or the public comment period, you can visit USGBC’s website.

Matt is a member of the Construction Service Group of Stites & Harbison, PLLC, and is a LEED® Accredited Professional. Matt lives in Nashville and is the founder of www.bestpracticesconstructionlaw.com. You can reach the author at mdevries@stites.com.




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