Although the economy in the United States is faring better than it was just a quarter ago, we are still dealing with the effects of a recession. As businesses have closed down or reduced the amount of locations they operate, vacancy rates at office buildings across the nation have risen. Buildings that are either in the middle of obtaining LEED for Existing Buildings Operations & Maintenance (LEED-EB O&M), or hoping to begin the process may find themselves facing a major obstacle: the minimum occupancy requirement.

In order to address the current commercial property trend, the U.S. Green Building Council has reduced the minimum occupancy requirement from 75 percent to 50 percent for buildings seeking LEED-EB O&M certification. This requirement is valid for projects seeking certification under both versions two and three.

“This change is in response to current market realities that have disqualified an unprecedented number of properties from pursuing LEED certification because they are unable to meet the 75 percent occupancy rate requirement. USGBC staff and LEED committee members have determined that lowering the required occupancy rate to 50 percent does not undermine the technical integrity of LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance certification and are pleased to be able to offer this solution to the market.“ Source: USGBC

Guidelines for the change, which is expected to be permanent, will be available on the USGBC website later this month.