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The most widespread green building rating system will soon have a new version as drafts of LEED 2012 enter the construction scene for public approval. The new system is phasing in this year with new credit categories, more specific technical requirements and a reach covering more market segments. The refined system signifies the constant improvement and evolution of green design and construction, as well as operations and maintenance practices.

The new LEED 2012 rating system is in response to the increasing prevalence of sustainable building construction and is created to anticipate the evolving direction of the industry.

“As the USGBC plans to refine the LEED system every two years, our team will be keeping pace,” said Alison Warren, LEED AP Designer at KMA Architecture & Engineering. “Although there are always challenges adhering to the new standards, every improvement to the system is one step closer to making our world entirely sustainable.”

The USGBC has provided helpful information for those in the industry to become more familiar with the new LEED system:

Why are the LEED rating systems being updated?
The hallmark of LEED and its ability to affect market transformation is its continuous improvement cycle that enables the rating system to increase in scope and stringency as market readiness increases and new technologies become widely available. With LEED 2009, the primary changes were foundational changes, such as rating system content alignment, credit point value allocation, the development of LEED Online v3 and changes to the professional credentials and certification process. These foundational changes continue to be refined in the context of LEED 2009 but will not be fundamentally changed again with the next update of LEED.

For LEED 2012, USGBC will focus on increasing the technical rigor of the rating system, expanding the market sectors able to use LEED and striving for simplicity in terms of usability. LEED 2012 builds on LEED 2009 in a thoughtful way. It optimizes the foundations in LEED 2009 and will continue to improve the clarity, usability, functionality and interconnectedness of the rating systems through future version development.

What will LEED 2012 look like?
LEED 2012 is a technical update to the LEED rating systems, including the Building Design + Construction, Interior Design + Construction, Operations + Maintenance, Neighborhood Development and LEED for Homes rating systems. It presents the opportunity to engage with LEED program development and will include multiple public comment periods, responses from USGBC member committees and a ballot vote among USGBC’s industry-wide membership.

What are the differences between LEED 2009 and LEED 2012?
The differences between LEED 2009 and the update to LEED are limited to three main areas:

  • New Credit Categories that help teams understand how to best achieve their project priorities.
  • Changes to Technical Content that increases the technical rigor of the rating system. The proposed technical changes are based on market data, stakeholder-generated ideas, expert engagement and advances in technology and market acceptability of LEED and green building practices.
  • Revised Point Distribution that will more closely tie the rating system requirements to the priorities articulated by the USGBC community.
The next LEED 2012 public comment period will be open from March 1 through 20, which marks the start of the program delivery process. The third draft of the rating system is focused on providing a simple-to-use, technically advanced and more robust system. Once the comment period process concludes, LEED 2012 will be balloted this June and launch in November.

Projects currently registered with LEED should follow the version under which they are currently registered. Project teams will not be required or able to register for LEED 2012 until it has undergone a ballot vote by USGBC membership.

For more information about LEED 2012, please visit USGBC's website.

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