New pathways for social equity strategies in LEED | U.S. Green Building Council
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Published on
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Posted in LEED
Published on
Written by
Posted in LEED

USGBC is offering new ways to integrate social equity strategies into your LEED project.

Does your LEED project team strive to incorporate deeply meaningful strategies to extend the benefits of green building to all people affected by it? Do these strategies fall outside of existing LEED credits?

USGBC has heard you and is excited to offer you some new ways to integrate these strategies and policies into your LEED certification. We recognize that in order to have strong positive social impact in your green building project, it is necessary to build relationships and develop strategies that are uniquely suited to your community, organization and operations.

Improving the social equity pilot credits

To acknowledge and reward the critical process of finding these unique solutions for each project, USGBC’s LEED Social Equity Working Group recently published changes to the social equity pilot credits for all major LEED rating systems, including Neighborhood Development and Building Operations and Maintenance. The pilot credits now make it easier for U.S. and international project teams alike to embrace social justice by serving those who are most often overlooked in a building project, as well as by incorporating business and governance practices in your firms that best further the goals of social responsibility.

The methodology of these changes is the Alternative Compliance Path (ACP). In the true nature of a LEED pilot credit, the ACP approach allows more varied types of social actions to be considered and rewarded:

"USGBC welcomes the idea of alternative strategies to those discussed in the credit language for these pilot credits; as a means to learn more about other possibilities towards meeting the intent of the credit, and in order to potentially incorporate good ideas into future pilot credits and/or standard LEED credits."

Social Equity within the Project Team

This credit addresses fair workforce pay and worker benefits, as well as leadership by project teams in their own governance, in their workforce policies and in overall social responsibility. It is now easier to propose new standards and frameworks to accomplish these goals.

Social Equity within the Community

This credit addresses social, economic and other disparities in a project’s community, including within and beyond the building edge. Project teams that implement strong community engagement and needs assessment practices can now propose their own processes for consideration.

Social Equity within the Supply Chain

This credit addresses the workers who are involved in the production of materials and products used in the project. The new ACP pathway allows documentation to be considered that addresses conditions in different regions and countries, as well as alternative methods to address the inequities for workers anywhere in the world. 

Similar to the process for proposing a LEED innovation strategy, project teams must provide the following information for any new social equity approach:

  • Intent of the proposed strategy
  • Requirements for compliance
  • Submittals to document compliance
  • Design approach or strategies

Pilot credits are the USGBC’s way of bringing in new ideas—of opening up possibilities of what a LEED project can be. With these changes, we hope to help project teams become even better citizens in addressing change that they can be part of—and be proud of.

Explore the pilot credit library