LEED v4 Changes – What to Expect

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LEEDv4 Changes

LEED v4 Changes

We’ve been using LEED as a tool to assist owners and design-build teams for many years and helped guide many projects to certification. Now everyone is chatting about LEED v4 changes and many are curious what to expect. We began a pilot LEEDv4 EBOM project for a local hotel, but in the end they decided to pursue LEED 2009 because it was easier to score higher. One thing is certain – LEED v4 changes have made achieving LEED certification more difficult.

LEED v4 Changes Credit Categories

LEED v4 Changes Credit Categories

Here is a quick summary of the more significant changes in LEEDv4:

Innovation and Integrative Design (ID) LEED v4 Changes

  • New credit encouraging earlier modeling and feedback loops for energy and water systems
  • Reduced duration of the required early design charrette from 8 hours to 4

Locations and Transportation (LT) LEED v4 Changes

  • New credit for LEED ND developments
  • Updates around “brownfield remediation” practices
  • Added encouragement for developing bike-friendly areas

Sustainable Sites (SS) LEED v4 Changes

  • New options for land preservation via land trusts and restrictive agreements
  • Added clarifying language around open space, requiring that space “must be of beneficial use to the occupants or community.”
  • Updated reqs for the Solar Reflective Index (SRI) to reduce heat island effect


LEED v4 Changes - WaterSense Label

LEED v4 Changes – WaterSense Label

Water Efficiency (WE) LEEDv4 Changes

  • New prerequisite to reduce outdoor (irrigation) water use
  • New WaterSense labeling requirements on low-flow plumbing fixtures
  • Requirements for whole building water metering
  • More stringent water use reductions
  • Removed credit for “Innovative Wastewater Technologies”
  • Added water use reduction requirements for appliances
  • New credit for “Cooling Tower Water Use”
  • New credit for sub-metering

Energy and Atmosphere (EA) LEEDv4 Changes

  • Existing buildings required to have Energy Star Score of 75 (previously 69)
  • Commissioning agent (CxA) must now be onboard by the end of design development
  • New prerequisite requirements for Building Enclosure Commissioning (BECx) during design.
  • New requirements for O&M Plan in Cx prerequisite
  • New prerequisite for a minimum of  whole building level metering
  • New credit opportunity for pursuing Building Envelope Commissioning (aka: “Bld Enclosure Cx” or “BECx”)
  • New credits for sub-metering and “demand response” systems
  • Removed credit for Measurements & Verification (M&V)


LEEDv4 Supports Cradle 2 Cradle

LEEDv4 Supports Cradle 2 Cradle

LEEDv4 Changes Push Toward HPDs

LEEDv4 Changes Push Toward HPDs


Materials and Resource (MR) LEEDv4 Changes

  • New prerequisite language for storage and collection of batteries, mercury containing lamps, and e-waste
  • New prerequisite for “Construction and Demolition Waste Management Planning”
  • New credit for “Building Life Cycle Impact Reduction,” which replaced the older “Building Reuse” credits
  • New credits for “Building Product Disclosure and Optimization – Environmental Product Declaration (EPD),” “Sourcing of Raw Materials,” and “Material Ingredient Reporting.” This is a big push for transparency, changes in manufacturing and healthier material ingredients. Programs like the Health Product Declaration (HPD) and Cradle 2 Cradle will grow as a result of this credit
  • Healthcare credits for Persistent Bioaccumulating Toxin (PBT) Reduction for mercury, lead, and cadmium remained unchanged. These are credit requirements initially adopted from the Green Guide for Health Care

Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) LEEDv4 Changes

  • New prerequisite requirements for outside air delivery monitoring, and managing CO and radon in residential buildings
  • Removed allowances for designated smoking areas (except residential)
  • Added some exceptions for the “Minimum Acoustic Performance” credit for schools
  • New language under “Enhanced Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Strategies” regarding sensors and modeling
  • “Low Emitting Materials” now focuses on real VOC emissions rather than stated “VOC content,” and other minor modifications to credit language
  • Switched from “Views,” to “Quality Views,” and provided additional definitions
  • New BD&C Credit for Acoustic Performance. New requirements for room noise levels, speech privacy, and sound isolation, reverberation time, and paging masking, and sound reinforcement systems
  • Removed the credit “Mold Prevention” from LEED for Schools, and moved reqs to Thermal Comfort credit; this falls under BECx

In theory there is less (~30%) documentation and the re-certification system has been streamlined.

I respect the USGBC for constantly updating their rating system and making certification more challenging. For the design-build industry and consultants like us, big LEED v4 changes come with a price and are greeted with trepidation.

The above notes are mostly excerpts from a USGBC summary and a recent presentation at the PG&E Pacific Energy Center by Lyn Simon. I cannot say enough good things about the free training offered by PG&E.