The US Green Building Council is continuing to grow its presence in different areas of sustainability, the international market, and improve the dynamics of sustainability tracking for existing buildings. With the majority of focus on LEEDv4 in the New Construction arena, and the longer than usual timeline for adoption of LEEDv4, there’s an opportunity to already update the rating system for Existing Buildings.
USGBC/GBCI has released a BETA version of LEEDv4.1 for O+M: Existing Buildings, along with a proposed rating system document and scorecards – “Enter LEED v4.1: LEED v4.1 is not a full version change, but rather an incremental update to the LEED rating systems. LEED v4.1 will be our most inclusive and transparent platform to date.” (https://new.usgbc.org/leed-v41)
The process (see image below from usgbc.org), will start with project teams opting into the BETA version though LEEDOnline and providing feedback. Industry members and LEED users are also welcome to review the proposed LEEDv4.1 4 rating system and submit ‘Proposals’, defining specific recommendations to improve the rating system. With the feedback from projects and all the submitted proposals, USGBC will release an updated v4.1 rating system document and put it out for public comment, followed by the formal adoption process for new versions of the LEED rating system. The date for the anticipated public comment is still unspecified and will depend on the quantity and clarity of the proposals and feedback received.
What’s in the rating system
The new version is focused on using the Arc platform to track ongoing building performance. Five separate indices have been defined, comparing against new metrics and scoring projects on a 1-100 scale. (O+M: Existing Buildings Scorecard)
- Transportation Performance Score
- Score is based on the traditional transportation survey, however the index scores are awarded based on CO2 emissions per one-way trip per occupant. The minimum response rate is calculated using a new formula, and points are awarded anywhere from 6-15 points for a score from 40-100 (in the Existing Buildings scorecard).
- Water Performance Score
- Score is based on 12 months of whole-building water usage (all meter serving the LEED boundary), and points are awarded anywhere from 6-15 points for a score from 40-100 (in the Existing Buildings scorecard).
- Energy Performance Score
- Score is based on 12 months of whole-building energy usage (all electricity, natural gas, and other energy source meters serving the LEED boundary).
- Points are awarded anywhere from 13-33 points for a score from 40-100 evaluated in two areas: GHG Emissions and Source Energy (in the Existing Buildings scorecard).
- Waste Performance Score
- Score is based on either 12 months of waste diversion tracking, or a one-time comprehensive waste audit. Points are awarded anywhere from 3-8 points for a score of 40-100 based on a calculation for ‘daily waste diversion’.
- Indoor Environmental Performance Score
- Score is based on 3 criteria: human experience (occupant comfort survey, worth 50%), CO2 score (worth 25%), and TVOC score (worth 25%).
- Points are awarded anywhere from 8-20 points for a score of 40-100.
Other notable updates:
- 1 O+M: Existing Interiors is a new market sector adaption, with its own scorecard released in the LEEDv4.1 BETA. The scorecard reflects similar differences as seen between New Construction and Commercial Interiors, such as a focus on sub-metering, and point weightings being shifted from the Location and Transportation/Sustainable Sites categories over to Materials and Resources/Indoor Environmental Quality
- Regional Priority and Innovation are no longer eligible points on the scorecard
- External references to ENERGY STAR, WaterSense, APPA (cleanliness effectiveness survey) or I-BEAM (Indoor Air Quality Management Program) are no longer present
- The focus on performance data as currently proposed means that for energy and water: at a minimum whole building metering must be present. For the performance scores relating to transportation, human experience, and waste: at least one annual survey or audit must be completed. Occupant comfort and transportation can be completed via an annual survey through the arc tool, while audits of air quality and waste diversion must also be completed annually.
- For interiors projects, energy and water data can either be sub-metered for the space or prorated based on square footage within the boundary.
Healthy Buildings is currently working on a handful of targeted proposals to improve the BETA version in our key areas of expertise – Indoor Air Quality, Energy, and Water, as well as a suggestion to re-include best management practices as previously referenced in the O+M standard.
If you’d like to share notes on proposals or suggestions for improvements to the new standard, please feel free to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out to your local USGBC chapters. We look forward to a more dynamic and inclusive benchmark system, that maintains the rigor and high-performance thresholds that have made the LEED rating system a market leader in the US.