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Working With LEED V4

Monday, March 11, 2019 8:59 PM | Kate Hamblet (Administrator)

LEED V4 came out 6 years ago, but it was only required starting late 2016. So, what have we learned these past couple years? What do we have to look forward to? I’ve had the opportunity to be the LEED administrator for a couple new construction projects pursuing LEED Gold in V4 recently, and have the following to report:

1.    There are no more gimme credits. You all know the ones I’m talking about. “Install a bike rack next to a freeway, get a credit”. “Find a LEED AP somewhere on the project, get a credit”. Well, the USGBC heard all the jokes... Now, bike racks require connections to bikeable paths. The LEED Accredited Professional credit now requires a critical role on the project and appropriate specialization. Sorry, legacy AP’s!

2.    The easy credits have been consolidated into tougher credits. Stormwater Design credits combined to one. Heat Island Reduction credits combined to one. Reuse credits combined into one. Recycled Content, Rapidly Renewable Materials, and Certified Wood credits combined into one. Construction IAQ credits combined into one. Low Emitting Materials credits combined into one. Thermal Comfort credits combined into one. Outdoor Air Delivery Monitoring, Increased Ventilation, and Indoor Chemical and Pollutant Source Control credits combined into one. These changes have made every single one of these credits more meaningful, comprehensive, and streamlined. It also means you need to basically earn all the combined credits to get one. Where’d all my points go!?

3.    Out with the old. Innovative wastewater technologies is nowhere to be found. If you’re going that far, you may want to check out the Living Building Challenge. Regional Materials is now just a multiplier for the Sourcing of Raw Materials credit.

4.    In with the new. Integrative Project Planning credit rewards teams for early sustainability planning. Site Assessment credit rewards teams for a thorough analysis. Building-Level Energy and Water Metering now required, with reporting for 5 years (extra credits for sub-meters). Outdoor Water Use Reduction rewards projects for reducing irrigation. Cooling Tower Water Use rewards projects for efficient design. Demand Response rewards projects for participation in load-shedding programs. A Construction Waste Management Plan is now required. Building Life-Cycle Impact Reduction rewards projects for completing a Whole-Building Life-Cycle Assessment. Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) and Material Ingredients (HPDs) reward projects for using products with a life-cycle analysis.

It still stings to remember how easy the 2009 version of LEED was when doing some of this documentation. However, LEED is best viewed as a working, evolving set of guidelines. As markets adapt to these changes, new versions will challenge us to push the envelope further. With the proliferation of EPDs and HPDs in the marketplace, whole-building LCA models will soon become as common as energy models. Sub-meters and participation in demand response programs may soon be a requirement to “shave peaks” and reduce infrastructure costs. Flush-outs will become obsolete as we shift to using all low-emitting materials. These changes might not be as flashy as planting a green roof, but they might change the entire economy into one that’s a little closer to where we need to be. As the IPCC reminds us in their latest report, we have a lot of work to do. More than ever, we know how to get there.

See you in the field,

Doug Shilo, AIA, LEED® AP BD+C

USGBC NH Chapter Co-chair

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