USGBC's Upgraded Standards Ready to Roll for 2009

USGBC's Upgraded Standards Ready to Roll for 2009

On the eve of its seventh annual international conference, the U.S. Green Building Council announced that its upgraded certification program for commercial buildings known as LEED 2009 has passed member balloting and will take effect next year.

Shaped by scientific research and recent advancements in technology, the revised standards ratchet up the thresholds for improving energy efficiency, reducing carbon emissions and addressing other aspects that affect people and the environment.

The reweighting of credits is considered among the more significant changes in the latest edition of LEED. The USGBC said today that the updates to the assessment and rating system are intended to "reflect climate change and energy efficiency as urgent priorities." 

Although the requirements for high performance buildings increase, the system maintains its four tiers of recognition — basic certification under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards and three ascending ratings: LEED-Silver, LEED-Gold and LEED Platinum, the highest available.

"LEED 2009 resets the bar for green building leadership because the urgency of our mission has challenged the industry to move faster and reach further than ever before,"  USGBC President CEO and Found Chair Rick Fedrizzi said when opening the proposed new standard up for stakeholder comment. "LEED 2009, coupled with an expanded third-party certification program and significant enhancements to LEED Online, make up a multi-faceted initiative."

Public comment on the new standards occurred in two stages, the first began in May and the second, in September. The changes then went before the USGBC's 18,000 member organizations for a pass-fail vote.

News about LEED 2009 came as more than 25,000 attendees were gathering for the Greenbuild 2008 International Convention and Expo at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.  

Preceded by member events and board meetings, the three-day conference officially opens tomorrow with keynote address by Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

In another preconference announcement, the USGBC said it has opened comment on its LEED for Neighborhood Development rating system — the first certification system of its kind for community design and development.

A pilot for the standards began in 2007 and has involved almost 240 projects in 39 states and six countries, including plans for two sweeping mixed-use developments in Canada. A key component of the Dockside Green project in Victoria, British Columbia, was awarded LEED Platinum this past summer, and further development plans for the former Currie Barracks in Calgary attained a LEED Gold rating earlier this fall.