All new projects seeking LEED certification by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) are now required to register under the LEED v3 guidelines. The newest version of the LEED certification system includes regional priority credits, mandated performance reporting, and several changes within each individual rating systems.
The LEED for Schools Rating System is designed to address the unique needs of K-12 schools. “By addressing the uniqueness of school spaces and children’s health issues, LEED for Schools provides a unique, comprehensive tool for schools that wish to build green, with measurable results. LEED for Schools is the recognized third-party standard for high-performance schools that are healthy for students, comfortable for teachers, and cost-effective.” Source: USGBC
As with version three of the LEED for New Construction and LEED for Commercial Interiors checklists, the new LEED for Schools checklist has a maximum of 110 available points. Registered projects must obtain a minimum of 40 points to receive LEED certification. Silver certification will be awarded for projects that earn between 50 and 59 points while Gold level certification will be given to schools that earn between 60 and 79 points. LEED Platinum, the ultimate in green building certification, is reserved for those projects that score a minimum of 80 points.
The Sustainable Sites credits are similar to those set forth by the LEED for Schools 2007 standards, but more points are awarded in several categories including parking capacity, public transportation access, and Development Density and Community Connectivity.
Schools wishing to gain points in the Water Efficiency category will have to improve their conservation efforts in order to even qualify for any points in the section. The previous version granted one point to projects that achieved a 20% reduction in water use. Version three requires that at least a 30% water reduction be reached in order to receive points for this credit.
Another noticeable difference comes in the Energy & Atmosphere category. Previously, there were only nine levels in the Optimize Energy Performance section and three point levels for the use of On-Site Renewable Energy. LEED for Schools v3 has increased these levels: 19 available points for energy performance and seven available points for on-site renewable energy.
For more information download the LEED for Schools New Construction and Major Renovations 2009 Rating System (PDF).