Melissa Baker
4 minute read

See our breakdown of all the LEED news from Greenbuild Chicago.

About 20 years ago, LEED was created to measure and define green building. LEED established a baseline—a universally agreed-upon, holistic system for reducing environmental impacts, saving resources, impacting human health, reducing carbon emissions and addressing climate change.

Fast-forward two decades, and green building has grown into a trillion-dollar industry, with LEED now the most widely used green building program in the world. But this is only the first chapter of the story—and now, we are preparing for the next one.

This past spring, USGBC introduced LEED v4.1, a series of upgrades designed to be more inclusive and to have a more user-friendly and accessible platform. We cannot leave 90 percent of buildings behind if we want to realize the vision of a sustainable future for all—so, we started with a rating system for existing buildings.

Last month at Greenbuild in Chicago, I was excited to announce the next phase for LEED:

LEED v4.1 calendar

USGBC will launch LEED v4.1 Building Design and Construction, Interior Design and Construction, Residential, Cities and Communities in 2019. The calendar below lists the launch dates for each rating system, including an advance preview of the drafts. With LEED v4.1, we fundamentally transformed our rating system development process, making it more agile and adaptable, to incorporate real-time feedback.

In this latest update, we incorporated that feedback and made modifications to ensure we had an accessible rating system that would also transform the market. Highlights include adding a carbon metric for new and existing buildings (a first for LEED), raising our energy reference standard for new construction to ASHRAE 90.1 2016 and making adjustments to prioritize and focus on the most pressing issues of today.

  • Mid-December 2018: LEED v4.1 BD+C, ID+C, Residential, Cities and Communities draft preview
  • Mid-January 2019: LEED v4.1 BD+C and ID+C beta registration launch
  • Spring 2019: LEED Residential, Cities and Communities beta registration launch


It is clear that performance is the future—and with this in mind, we have set our sights on net zero. Building on LEED v4.1 and inspired by the leadership of those who have committed to net zero across the LEED community, we have introduced a new certification that gives the larger green building community a standard to strive for: LEED Zero. Our new zero certifications will help reinforce the accomplishments of these visionary leaders, while improving performance, accountability and transparency. LEED Zero is a certification for net zero carbon and/or net zero energy, net zero water and net zero waste. Learn more.

LEED recertification

All LEED projects, v1 to v4.1—past, present and future—can now recertify by providing 12 months of data. This recertification will be valid for three years and will result in a certification to the newest version of LEED available (currently LEED v4.1). The new guidance presents a simple and data-driven pathway, reassuring projects that they are meeting ever-changing goals and staying on the cutting edge.

It’s not enough to demonstrate leadership at a single point in time—we want all LEED projects to continue to demonstrate leadership long after they are constructed. Recertification is available to occupied and in-use projects that have previously achieved certification under LEED, regardless of their initial rating system or version. Learn more.

LEED BD+C: Transit

Transportation is a rapidly growing sector and a critical component of physical infrastructure. It has tremendous potential for positive global impact by saving energy and water and reducing our contribution to climate change.

Building on the release of transit guidance for existing stations, we released LEED guidance for the design and construction of new individual transit stations. Using the LEED rating system structure, LEED BD+C: Transit was developed with valuable input from the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation in India (DMRC), Shanghai Shentong Metro Group Co. Ltd. for China (Shentong), and Shanghai Green City Architectural Technology Co., Ltd. Learn more.

I am proud of what USGBC has accomplished in the last 25 years, even more proud of what we’ve been able to do this year with LEED v4.1 and excited and optimistic for the future. After all, the next generation is expecting us to do the right thing!