Guest Post by John Poole, Founder of Constuctionomics

I attended an information session recently put on by the vice president of the Delaware Valley Green Building Council, Peter Levasseur. It was an excellent presentation, but if this thing gets any more complicated I may have to….well, I don’t know what I may have to do.  It would probably involved whining about it to deaf ears throughout cyberspace.

Actually the changes, in my opinion, are very sensible.  They just take a little time to go back and learn. And since human beings are very lazy (no it’s not just me), we don’t like having to learn something even once, let alone twice, and then again in another three years.  C’mon didn’t we graduate from school for a reason?

Anyway, I’m going to try to give the best recap I can on the changes to the LEED rating system (and accreditation system). Please excuse me if there are some minor inaccuracies.  If there are, it is entirely the fault of the USGBC (U.S. Green Building Council) for making us have a PhD in thermo-nuclear physics to figure this thing out. (Actually it’s really not that bad)

First of all, the system is 100 points, with 10 extra credit points leaving a total of 110 possible LEED points, instead of the previous 69 point system. The certification schedule for New Construction and Major Renovations is below.

Certified 40–49 points
Silver 50–59 points
Gold 60–79 points
Platinum – 80 points and above

They also gave some weight to some of the credits so you no longer get the same credit for redeveloping Three Mile Island as you would for putting a bike rack in front of your building. Actually those did stay the same! I can’t believe it!

However, there were some significant changes. For example, the development density and community connectivity credit is now worth 5 points, instead of 1. Access to public transportation credit is worth 6 instead of 1. Also, you get 3 points for meeting the low-emitting and fuel efficient vehicles requirement.

LEED 2009 also has a prerequisite of beating the ASHRAE energy performance requirements by 10% instead of just meeting them. The optimize energy requirements in Energy and Atmosphere are now worth a possible 19 points instead of 10, but I’m not sure if this is better or not because you need nearly double the amount of points to get LEED certified. Also, the on-site renewable energy credit has a possible 7 points when it was previously 3.

It seems to me that the USGBC is trying to push us in the direction of development in more densely populated areas, and then using more forms of on-site renewable energy. That’s just a hunch.

Another little interesting twist is the addition of four possible regional priority credits which basically put added weight to credits that could be more beneficial to a particular area. The USGBC (actually the chapters) went through every zip code in the country and tried to determine which LEED credits would be most beneficial to that particular environment. For example, downtown Philadelphia will get an extra point for meeting the bike storage requirement due to the high number of bikers in the urban area. A suburban project wouldn’t have as much importance placed on this credit because most people are driving anyway. A site in Las Vegas may have more emphasis on water reduction credits or the use of renewable energy. However you can confirm this on the USGBC website for any zip code in the country.


So the last thing that is really worth mentioning I suppose, is that the route toward professional accreditation has changed slightly. Even though I don’t really care, because I already got my LEED AP, I’m kind enough to tell you anyway. Basically, there is no more single LEED AP. Newly appointed LEED APs will fall in one of five categories: Operations & Maintenance, Homes, Building Design and Construction, Interior Design and Construction, and Neighborhood Development. The generic LEED accreditation is called a LEED associate and from what I hear the test is a lot easier than the LEED AP. Also, there are eligibility requirements to take any of these tests. Folks who passed the test previously are now LEED Legacys. I have no idea what they are entitled to or what kind of respect they will get.

I know I didn’t hit everything either because I didn’t know it, didn’t understand it, or just couldn’t bear talking about this anymore.  However, if you would like to add anything that you think is a significant change from the previous version of LEED please do. Perhaps this can be an online collaboration of the LEED version 3 changes. That would make my life a lot easier.

© 2009, John_Poole. All rights reserved. Do not republish.

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Author: John_Poole (1 Articles)

John Poole is the founder of the construction management firm Constructonomics. He has been involved in the successful delivery of several large construction projects of over $50 million in value assuming the roles of civil engineer, general contractor, construction manager, as well as subcontractor. His project list includes Lincoln Financial Football Stadium, Memorial Hospital, Arrabelle Hotel and Resort, and the Revel Casino. John has a diverse construction industry background on the design professional side as well as construction. He holds an undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering and a graduate degree in Construction Management where he focused his study on leadership and management practices in the construction industry. Read his blog at

  • David Stone, LEED AP

    You … and other “Legacy” LEED AP’s SHOULD care about the new credentialing system now administered by GBCI (the Green Building Certification Institute). While the respect all us “old” LEED AP’s depends on how we use our credentials, the new system doesn’t negate our efforts to earn that title. Plus, there are options for Legacy AP’s to move into the new speciality ratings, all explained at
    Additional, you are IN correct that the “generic LEED accreditation is LEED associate.” The new LEED AP program is two-tiered wherethe “entry” level is called LEED Green Associate, and from there you can move on to a LEED AP Speciality designation. Again, all this is explained on GBCI’s website.
    Just a little bit of research on your part would have helped inform you and all the others that are reading this blog. I encourage you … and them … to take the time to fully understand the new and improved LEED credentialing program.

  • JP

    @David Stone, LEED AP – To be fair, the GBCI has had multiple iterations of the LEED credentialing system and at best it is still confusing to even those who have been following it diligently since the GBCI came into existence. There is the ambiguous LEED Fellow designation still to be developed and the term “legacy” has been dropped during the myriad of changes. In an earlier version, converting from a LEED AP to a LEED AP+(designation) required demonstrating project experience while now it is not required to demonstrate project experience. There are manuals posted on the GBCI website for both enrollment as a LEED AP+ and for credential maintenance requirements, but both manuals say they are only valid for the dates listed on the cover and so far each “version” of the manual has only been valid for one month. Even if the date is the only thing that changes, the burden is still on the LEED AP to be up to date on what each manual requires. I think the worst part is that the only way to get clarification on any of this outside of the manuals is to se the GBCI web form…finding a customer service phone number where you can receive direct contact is very difficult.

    I think the LEED AP program needed adjustment since the number of LEED APs is over 100,000 and the number of certified buildings is still not less than 10,000 – i.e. from simple math very few of the LEED APs who are currently out there have experience in using the system.