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.