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Jeremy Sigmon

2016 has already been a busy year for LEED. Just recently, USGBC members approved a ballot measure that updates the minimum energy efficiency requirements for LEED BD+C and ID+C v3 rating systems (including LEED 2008 Multifamily Mid-Rise). The change is effective for projects registering for LEED v3 certification (also called LEED 2009) using these rating systems on or after April 8, 2016. This update does not affect LEED 2009 O+M, ND or LEED 2008 Homes. 

For projects that decide to register for LEED under the 2009/v3 versions of the rating system on or after the effective date of April 8, 2016, here’s what you need to know.

  • The referenced standards will not change. The new minimum thresholds equate to a four-point minimum in the Optimize Energy Performance credit (except health care, where a three-point minimum is required). For new construction, this amounts to an 8 percent efficiency increase above the previous 10 percent requirement beyond ASHRAE 90.1-2007 (see summary of changes). Projects seeking to comply via prescriptive Options 2 and 3 will need to use a different pathway, as these options do not award a sufficient number of points. Projects may also use ASHRAE 90.1-2010 to comply, using the ASHRAE 90.1-2010 Adjusted Point Scale for LEED v2009 Projects (see LEED Interpretation #10421).
  • Most LEED projects far exceed the rating system’s minimum entry points. When I studied this in 2012-2014, my fellow researchers and I uncovered (from the 1,802 LEED v2009 buildings certified in the United States at that time) that the average LEED BD+C v2009 project improves upon the 90.1-2007 baseline by approximately 29 percent. The update to LEED v3 rating systems follows precedent where all projects registered for LEED NC v2 on or after June 26, 2007 were required to earn at least a minimum of 2 points in EAc1: Optimize Energy Performance. This increased the minimum efficiency threshold from compliance with ASHRAE 90.1-2004 to at least a 14 percent improvement beyond that baseline.

We’re proud of an increasingly robust set of change-agent instruments to help all buildings—and, of course, the people who manage and occupy them—play to their strengths and demonstrate their leadership in energy and environmental performance. From rewarding the Living Building Challenge’s Energy Petal Certification via the LEED framework to driving efficiency in power supply and delivery through PEER and in entire real estate portfolios through GRESB, USGBC and GBCI are working to bring more attention to the importance of energy efficiency in the built environment. 

All project teams are still encouraged to register for LEED v4 or upgrade their LEED 2009/v3 registration to LEED v4. LEED v4 is a better rating system, after all. It even includes a cool new pilot alternative compliance path for the Optimize Energy Performance credits. Check out the User Guide to learn more.

Our mission, vision and deeply committed community compel us to continue the march toward truly sustainable buildings and communities. We are continually reminded of the need for urgency in our work. The recent Paris Agreement at COP21 provides further context and momentum for the transformation we’re working to achieve.

To all of our members, volunteers and the LEED community: thank you for your support and your active participation as we continue this important journey.

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