All new projects registered for the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) LEED certification system are now required to use LEED version 3.0 (also known as LEED 2009). There have been several updates to the LEED checklists including the addition of regional priority credits. The new system now requires that buildings submit performance data as a precondition to certification.
There are three ways in which buildings can meet the performance data requirement:
- The building can be re-certified every two years using the LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance (LEED-EB O&M) checklist.
- Annual reports of the building’s water and energy use be provided to the USGBC.
- Building owners can sign a waiver allowing the USGBC to directly access the building’s water and energy use reports from the utility company.
In a USGBC press release (PDF), Scot Horst, senior vice president of LEED, U.S. Green Building Council spoke about the importance of capturing the actual performance data of certified buildings.
“LEED was created to transform the way we build and operate buildings with a goal of reducing the impacts of the built environment. The LEED design and construction certifications recognize one piece of a building’s lifecycle but it’s the day-to-day running of the building that has dramatic impact on its performance. We know that buildings can be a huge part of the solution for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel dependence and USGBC sees this as one more step forward in accomplishing its goals for addressing climate change.” Source: USGBC (PDF)
The addition of the performance data requirement will help ensure that LEED certified buildings are performing to the measures that were defined during the building or renovation process. While the design elements and products used in a building may lead to a 40 percent improvement in energy efficiency (worth 15 points on the LEED-NC checklist), the actual performance of the building may be quite different.
As the USGBC begins to collect and analyze the data, it is likely that the next generation LEED checklists will look quite different than today’s versions.