Wes Sullens

California’s leadership means less paperwork and more certainty for LEED projects built to the state’s green codes.

The GreenerBuilder conference on July 13 was a festive, information-packed summit full of leaders from the USGBC Northern California green building community. Attendees and speakers learned about the latest news in the green building industry at the LEED Gold Zero Net Energy Center in the Bay Area.

Industry professionals shared updates on topics in the built environment, from measuring human health in buildings and cities to triple bottom line cost benefit analysis. Experts shared new tools for resilient building design, ongoing performance tracking through Arc and resources for identifying products that comply with codes and LEED. The event was capped with lessons learned in conducting net zero energy school retrofits, examining the costs of LEED v4 in California, and gaining helpful new resources on designing for onsite water reuse.

To kick off the conference, USGBC’s President and CEO Mahesh Ramanujam announced exciting news about LEED in California: New commercial projects built to California’s robust building codes are pre-approved for significant streamlining of fundamental LEED Building Design and Construction (BD+C) requirements. Qualifying projects will be able use code compliance documentation in order to satisfy all LEED v4 B+C prerequisites and earn 6 points.

The full list of streamlined measures:

  • SS Prerequisite: Construction Activity Pollution Prevention
  • SS Credit: Light Pollution Reduction (1 Point, Option 1)
  • WE Prerequisite: Outdoor Water Use Reduction
  • WE Prerequisite: Indoor Water Use Reduction
  • WE Prerequisite: Building-Level Water Metering
  • WE Credit: Outdoor Water Use Reduction (1 Point, Option 2)
  • WE Credit: Indoor Water Use Reduction (1 Point)
  • EA Prerequisite: Fundamental Commissioning and Verification
  • EA Prerequisite: Minimum Energy Performance
  • EA Prerequisite: Building-Level Energy Metering
  • EA Prerequisite: Fundamental Refrigerant Management
  • EA Credit: Optimize Energy Performance (1 Point, Option 1)
  • MR Prerequisite: Storage and Collection of Recyclables
  • MR Prerequisite: Construction and Demolition Waste Management Planning
  • MR Credit: Construction and Demolition Waste Management (1 Point, Option 1)
  • EQ Prerequisite: Minimum Indoor Air Quality Performance
  • EQ Prerequisite: Environmental Tobacco Smoke Control
  • EQ Credit Construction Indoor Air Quality Management Plan (1 point)

An 50 additional points are within reach via LEED credits that exceed code minimums but are complementary to state requirements.

USGBC hopes to significantly streamline documentation requirements for California projects. This new approach will simultaneously reward projects throughout California for meeting the stringent statewide standards and provide a more direct entry point for LEED certification (and an incentive for more projects to exceed code minimums voluntarily).

USGBC hopes this alignment will speed uptake of deeper green strategies in more buildings in California, leading to potentially bolder code updates in the future that can be informed by data collected from LEED projects. This effort in California illustrates how a growing green building code movement can be recognized and encouraged through LEED.

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