Senior vice president of LEED Scot Horst

3 July 2013 — After three years in development, the new Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design tool – LEED v4 – has been voted in by members, with 86 per cent supporting the update. And the US chemical industry, which has been on the attack regarding the inclusion of material ingredient disclosure credits, isn’t happy about it.

Chair of the LEED Steering Committee Joel Ann Todd said the US Green Building Council prided itself on setting a high bar for new rating system approval.

“The rating system must earn a significant percentage of the overall vote as well as a majority approval from each of the various LEED stakeholder groups,” she said. “This ensures that rating system approval represents the full diversity of USGBC’s membership.”

One stakeholder group, the chemical industry, had been vocal about updates to the material and resources section, which now includes credits for disclosure and optimisation of product ingredients.

Allen Blakeley, vice president of industry and government affairs for The Vinyl Institute – which represents US manufacturers of PVC – told website LEEDuser.com that the new credits were “a poor attempt to rush the future”.

Before the release of the tool, The American Chemistry Council had written to Congress representatives, saying that LEED was becoming a tool “to punish chemical companies”.

But rather than banning specific chemicals, the new credits are simply about increasing transparency.

The credit of concern is named “Building Product Disclosure and Optimization—Material Ingredient Reporting”.

USGBC says the tool:

  • Addresses transparency in material ingredients and selecting products with optimised ingredients
  • Is structured into disclosure and optimisation options
  • Rewards the use of products with ingredient reporting in programs like Health Product Declaration, Cradle 2 Cradle and others, and rewards products that meet the local products criteria
  • Includes a third option for supply chain optimisation (a new option reportedly to appease the chemical industry)

Aside from new credits, the updated tool expands into growing areas for green buildings. There are 21 different market sector adaptations, including new and existing data centres, new and existing warehouse and distribution centres, hospitality, existing schools, existing retail and multifamily midrise.

“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,” said senior vice president of LEED Scot Horst. “This newest version of LEED challenges the market to make the next leap toward better, cleaner, healthier buildings.”

The USGBC says LEED v4 has been created with the following goals in mind:

• To reverse contributions to global climate change
• To enhance individual human health and wellbeing
• To protect and restore water resources
• To protect, enhance and restore biodiversity and ecosystem services
• To promote sustainable and regenerative material resources cycles
• To build a greener economy
• To enhance social equity, environmental justice and community quality of life

Project teams will be able to use the updated tool or the old version up until June 1 2015, after which only LEED v4 will be available. However, USGBC are offering free certification for the first projects to use the new tool in an effort to get the ball rolling.

Currently there are more than 100 projects pursuing certification through the LEED v4 beta program.