October 2001

Volume 10, Number 10

LEED Development Adjusted

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At its August 19, 2001 meeting the Board of the U.S. Green Building Council voted unanimously to set a new course for updates to the LEED™ Rating System. “What we realized is that we’re overwhelmed by LEED’s popularity,” said LEED co-chair Rob Watson of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “We wanted to ensure that LEED has a really solid foundation before making significant changes to the system.” The previous plan called for release of a significantly revised LEED version 3.0, in 2003; the Board has now chosen a course of incremental improvements to LEED 2.0, while delaying the release of LEED 3.0 to 2005.

The incremental improvements are to be released over the next few years as LEED 2.1, LEED 2.2, and so on. These improvements will focus on simplifying the assessment of some credits, streamlining documentation requirements, improving administration of the system, and possibly adding an option for certification prior to construction of a building, based only on its design. “In the short term, we will focus on ensuring LEED’s ease of use by the building industry,” says Watson. New credits may be incorporated gradually during this time, or be tested as suggestions for “Innovation Credits.”

With the previously scheduled release of LEED 3.0 in 2003, the Council had been planning to release specific adaptations of LEED for projects not covered by the current system, such as commercial interiors and preexisting buildings. Those “vertical market” applications of LEED are still slated for pilot testing in 2002 and release in 2003. At least initially, these will rely primarily on credits adapted from the current LEED 2.0 system.

At the same meeting, the Board voted to permit other organizations to use the copyrighted language of the LEED Rating System without charge or penalty. This decision was spurred by conversations with a North Carolina group that drew from the LEED structure and content as a model for its High Performance Guidelines: Triangle Region Public Facilities. The board decided that the information in the LEED Rating System itself should be freely available to others to build on. The Council will focus instead on controlling the actual certification process and on selling its value-added resources, such as the LEED Reference Guide. “This decision should ease the minds of the many firms and organizations that have been using LEED as a framework for training programs and design charrettes, as it clarifies that use of the LEED Rating System as a standard will not be treated as a violation of law,” says president and CEO Christine Ervin. “The Council will continue to monitor how the standard is used to prevent confusion in the marketplace and to protect the value inherent in LEED certification.” Ervin also noted that the Council plans to distribute a “toolkit” in the near future to help state and local governments address local priorities within the LEED system much as Pennsylvania, Seattle, Portland, and Austin have done.

– NM

For more information:

Donna McIntire

U.S. Green Building Council

1015 18th Street NW, Suite 805

Washington, DC 20036

202/828-7422, 202/429-9574 (fax)

leedinfo@usgbc.org (e-mail)

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October 1, 2001