U.S. Green Building Council Announces Changes to LEED 2012


“LEED pushes the envelope to bring transformation to the market – that’s what we do,” said Scot Horst, Senior Vice President, LEED. “We remain committed to that, and to making sure that what we deliver is complete and can be successfully implemented.”

In addition to the ballot date change, other actions include:

  • Keeping LEED 2009 open for registration for three years
  • Continuing to ask for the market’s assistance in “test driving” LEED v4 to gain important insight during a time when improvements in usability infrastructure can be made
  • Committing to a fifth public comment that will open on Oct. 2, 2012, and run through Dec. 10, 2012 to take advantage of Greenbuild where USGBC will hold public forums and educational sessions on site in San Francisco. This will help stakeholders better understand requirements as well as any final changes that may appear in the new draft. Greenbuild will also serve as a platform to debut new forms, submittal documents and LEED Online enhancements that will help improve and enhance the user experience

Said USGBC President and CEO Rick Fedrizzi,  “This is 100% in response to our members’ desire that we give them a bit more time to absorb the changes in this next version of the rating system.  We want to do everything we can to ensure that the market can fully embrace LEED v4 because it represents significant progress on carbon reduction and human health. Greenbuild will provide us the perfect venue to experience the look and feel of the new system as an integrated package. Then we can take the first part of 2013 to make sure the consensus body has everything it needs for a successful ballot.”

For more information please visit usgbc.org/LEEDv4.

LEED-Certified Green Building Projects Hit 12,000 Mark

USGBCThe U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) today announced that the 12,000th commercial project has earned LEED certification. Since its launch in 2000, the LEED green building program has been transforming the way built environments are designed, constructed, operated and maintained.

The 12,000th project is the LEED Gold Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge. Paid for by the Recovery Act and rebuilt after the original facility was destroyed by Hurricane Ike in 2008, the facility will house new wildlife exhibits, an environmental education center, and National Parks employees.

The wildlife refuge joins a community of more than 137,000 LEED registered and certified projects, homes, communities and neighborhoods around the world.

The U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED green building certification system is the leading program for the design, construction, maintenance and operations of green buildings. More than 45,000 projects are currently participating in the commercial and institutional LEED rating systems, comprising 8.4 billion square feet of construction space in all 50 states and 120 countries. In addition, over 19,000 residential units have been certified under the LEED for Homes rating system, with over 76,500 more homes registered.

Third public comment period for LEED Green Building Program to start March 1

USGBCThe third public comment period for the proposed 2012 update to the USGBC LEED green building program will open Mar. 1, 2012. The comment period, which will close on Mar. 20, marks the start of the LEED 2012 program delivery process.

This third draft of LEED has been refined to address technical stringency and rigor, measurement and performance tools, and an enhanced user experience. The technical changes have been informed by market data, stakeholder-generated ideas, expert engagement and advances in technology. Additional performance-based management features will help projects measure and manage energy and water usage, site and building material selection, and indoor environmental quality.

LEED 2012 includes programs aimed at helping organizations use LEED to benchmark building performance in preparation for certification and for tracking performance of their buildings post-certification provide opportunities for ongoing engagement between project teams and USGBC both before certification and after the plaque is awarded.

For LEED projects outside of the U.S., LEED 2012 will offer a new global perspective. Through modified language, new requirements and options that increase flexibility, LEED 2012 makes it easier for the international community to engage.

In an effort to redefine and enhance the user experience, LEED credit requirements have been rewritten to better align with documentation already required by the architecture and construction fields. Improvements to submittals, documentation paths and LEED Online improve LEED usability.

As the LEED program evolves to address the dynamic needs of the building industry, the development process is based on principles of transparency, openness, and inclusiveness, and includes multiple comment periods where input received is incorporated into LEED. The third public comment documents, including technical refinements, scorecards, and responses to comments from the previous public comment period, will be available on usgbc.org/LEED2012 beginning Mar. 1. Members of the public can comment on any substantive changes made since the second public comment period, which ran from Aug. 1 through Sept. 14, 2011.

Once the comment period process concludes, LEED 2012 will be balloted in June and launch in November. To vote in the ballot, USGBC members must opt-in to the Consensus Body beginning Apr. 2. The Consensus Body is made up of employees of USGBC national member organizations in good standing, and ensures ballot participation from the full diversity of members who are using LEED in the marketplace. To be eligible to join the Consensus Body and vote in the LEED 2012 ballot, members must be in good standing by Mar. 1, and be maintained throughout the balloting period.

Top 10 states for LEED green buildings includes DC, CO, and IL

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has released its 2011 list of top 10 states for LEED-certified commercial and institutional green buildings per capita, based on the U.S. 2010 Census information. The District of Columbia leads the nation, with more than 31 square feet of LEED-certified space per person in 2011, with Colorado being the leading state, with 2.74 square feet per person in 2011.

Other top states include Illinois, Virginia and Washington, with 2.69, 2.42 and 2.18 square feet of LEED-certified space per person, respectively. The top LEED states per capita, including the District of Columbia:

Sq. ft. of space to earn LEED-
certification in 2011
Per capita
District of Columbia 18,954,022 31.50
Colorado 13,803,113 2.74
Illinois 34,567,585 2.69
Virginia 19,358,193 2.42
Washington 14,667,558 2.18
Maryland 11,970,869 2.07
Massachusetts 13,087,625 2.00
Texas 50,001,476 1.99
California 71,551,296 1.92
New York 36,538,981 1.89
Minnesota 9,591,445 1.81

LEED is the internationally recognized mark of green building excellence, with more than 44,000 projects commercial projects participating, comprising over 8 billion square feet of construction space in all 50 states and 120 countries. In addition, more than 16,000 homes have been certified under the LEED for Homes rating system, with more than 67,000 more homes registered.

Notable newly certified projects in 2011 include the Treasury Building in Washington, D.C., which is distinguished as the oldest LEED-certified project in the world; the LEED-Platinum Casey Middle School in Boulder, Colo.; the iconic Wrigley Building in Chicago, Ill.; Frito-Lay in Lynchburg, Va., which earned LEED Gold for the operations and maintenance of an existing building; the LEED Silver Hard Rock Café in Seattle, Wash.; Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis, Md.; Yawkey Distribution Center of The Greater Boston Food Bank in Mass.; the LEED Gold Austin Convention Center in TX; SFO’s LEED Gold Terminal 2 in San Francisco, Calif.; the LEED-Platinum Hotel Skylar in Syracuse, N.Y.; and the LEED Platinum Marquette Plaza in Minneapolis, Minn.

In December 2011, USGBC announced that LEED-certified existing buildings outpaced their newly built counterparts by 15 million square feet on a cumulative basis. A focus on heightened building performance through green operations and maintenance is essential to cost-effectively driving improvements in the economy and the environment.

Earn LEED credits with NCCER modules

Continuing education and LEED Professionals go hand in hand. If you need to earn CEUs, you might check out courses offered by NCCER (National Center for Construction Education and Research), Gainesville, FL. The organization has just had four of its modules approved by the USGBC (U.S. Green Building Council), Washington, for continuing education hours. With these new course approvals, NCCER can now help LEED Professionals meet all of the required continuing education hours established by the GBCI (Green Building Certification Institute), Washington.
   “NCCER’s attainment of continuing education hours for these courses offers credence to the role the HVAC curriculum plays in training technicians, as well as the sustainable operations and maintenance community,” said Matthew Todd, HVAC subject matter expert and LEED AP for Entek Corp., Vancouver, WA.
   All four modules come from NCCER’s current HVAC curriculum and include:

  • Energy Conservation Equipment
  • Air Quality Equipment
  • Indoor Air Quality
  • Alternative Heating and Cooling Equipment.

   These modules are readily available individually or as a spiral-bound unit titled Green Topics for HVAC. For more information on all green updates, visit NCCER’s online catalog at www.nccer.org .—Gary L. Parr

McKinsey report: Invest $50 billion, save $1.2 trillion

A recently released McKinsey report (McKinsey & Co., Washington), sponsored by USGBC, Washington, and several other organizations, indicates that investing $50 billion in the energy efficiency of buildings and other non-transportation initiatives throughout the next 10 years could reduce the nation’s energy consumption by 23% by 2020, save the U.S. economy $1.2 trillion, and reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by 1.1 gigatons. This level of investment is also projected to generate 900,000 jobs.
   “This confirms a critical path forward that we have long championed. Harnessing the engine of green, energy-efficient buildings can cost-effectively drive tremendous improvements in our economy and environment,” said Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chairman of USGBC. “Green building can stimulate the economy at a level one and a half times larger than the federal stimulus bill. In terms of climate change, a commitment to energy efficiency would be the equivalent of taking the entire U.S. fleet of passenger cars and light trucks—more than 200-million vehicles—off the road.”
The energy efficiency potential cited in the report is divided across three sectors of the U.S. economy:

  • industrial, 40% of the end-use energy efficiency potential
  • residential, 35%
  • commercial, 25%.

The report calls for an integrated national plan guided by five principles:

  • Recognize energy efficiency as an important energy resource that can help meet future energy needs, while the nation simultaneously develops new no- and low-carbon energy sources.
  • Formulate and launch, at both the national and regional levels, an integrated portfolio of proven, piloted, and emerging approaches.
  • Identify methods to provide the significant upfront funding.
  • Forge greater alignment among utilities, regulators, government agencies, manufacturers, and energy consumers.
  • Foster innovation in the development and deployment of next-generation, energy-efficiency technologies to ensure continuing productivity gains.

To download the report, click here.—Gary L. Parr

USGBC offers reaction to Clean Energy Act

usgbclogoThe U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), Washington, in a July 1 release supporting passage of the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, stated “The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) commends the House of Representatives for passing landmark energy and climate legislation Friday that includes several significant provisions to incentivize and accelerate the benefits of green building across the country.”
“From programs that would generate billions of dollars to spur and scale green retrofitting of our existing building stock to inclusion of the GREEN Act, which would create new opportunities for green affordable housing, this bill recognizes that green building is a major part of the solution to our economic and energy challenges,” said Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chair. “With this federal commitment, green building can help propel the new green economy by creating enormous energy and cost savings for millions of Americans, while accelerating unprecedented job creation.”
According to the release, the act includes several initiatives or provisions supported by or developed in consultation with USGBC, including:

  • The Retrofit for Energy and Environmental Performance (REEP) program, which supports the creation of retrofitting initiatives throughout the country for residential and nonresidential buildings that may offer a variety of incentives, including credit enhancements, interest rate subsidies, and initial capital for public revolving-loan funds.
  • The Building Energy Performance Labeling Program, which directs the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Washington, to create model building energy performance labels for new construction, establishing a meaningful and consistent basis for evaluating the energy performance of residential and commercial buildings.
  • EPA’s WaterSense program, which receives permanent authorization to designate products as water efficient, as well as funding for state incentive programs for use of water-efficient products.

The USGBC release also tells us that green building is critical to the nation’s future economy, energy security, and environment—buildings account for 40% of U.S. energy consumption, 39% of CO2 emissions, and 13% of water consumption. Also, greater building efficiency can meet 85% of future U.S. demand for energy and a national commitment to green building has the potential to generate 2.5 million American jobs.
To download a 10-page pdf file that presents the USGBC’s summary of the act, click here.—Gary L. Parr

“Green” facts from the “green” leader

Tweeter Heather West of Heather West Public Relations, Minneapolis, and, quite frankly, one of the better PR people I know, provided a link to remarks made by Rick Fedrizzi, president and CEO of the U.S. Green Building Council, at the Federal Summit 2009, held May 14 in Washington. You can download a pdf file of all of his remarks here, but I’ll give you what I view to be the highlights:

  • We know the economy has caused a slowdown in new building, but the better news is that it has invigorated the retrofitting of our existing building stock, and that’s a huge boon to our efforts to reduce our energy dependence on fossil fuels and to slow the pace of climate change.
  • There are 5.1 million commercial buildings in America, and almost all could benefit from significant operational upgrades and improvements. McKinsey estimates there’s a $160 billion upside in savings from energy retrofits. And we know that green buildings also mean green jobs, a critically important consideration as we work to get the economy back into gear.
  • Recently GSA ran a detailed evaluation of 12 of its sustainably designed buildings, post-occupancy, and discovered that these 12, when considered jointly, and compared to the national average
    –Produced 33% lower carbon emissions
    –Used 26% less energy
    –Used 3% less domestic water
    –Had occupants that were 27% more satisfied.
  • However, within the group of 12, two of the buildings were LEED Gold, and those buildings:
    –Consumed 34% less energy
    –Used 54% less domestic water than the national average
    –And their occupants reported 34% greater satisfaction.
  • And yet I’m sure you get the same question I do: In this time of profound economic stress, people always ask: Is green so important now when the times are so dire? In effect, they are asking, is the green building movement over?
  • And I respond with a resounding NO. In fact, I think we’ve only just begun to hit our stride on transforming our built environment.
  • In the last 6 months, we saw the passage of $17 billion in renewable energy and energy efficiency tax credits in last year’s bank bailout; and it was the only money in the bailout that wasn’t going to the banks.
  • And, as part of the economic stimulus bill, we saw about $30 billion in green building related provisions. And that was just in congressional intent and there is much more in indirect provisions as you follow the money from the Federal Agencies to state houses across the country. Whether it was the:
    –$9 billion that was made available to green school modernization and renovation
    –$3.2 billion to the State Energy Programs
    –$3.1 billion to the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program
    –$5 billion to GSA to green federal facilities
    –$5 billion to the weatherization assistance program, which will get us on the way to weatherizing 1 million homes.
  • There is simply no doubt that green building is at the nexus of creating jobs, saving energy, and saving money. And your leadership across the breadth and depth of the federal government is how we will deliver on that equation.

Of course, the head guy at USGBC is going to tell us that the green movement is going strong, even when money is tight. But he speaks the truth. Many discussions I’ve had at trade shows this spring have all carried the common thread of sustainable construction and energy savings. It’s here, it’s real, and will be for a long time.—Gary L. Parr