LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) has emerged as North America’s de facto green building rating system since it debuted in Canada a decade ago. The newest iteration – LEEDv4 as it is called – is already in effect in the US and will be released in Canada, complete with Canadian Alternate Compliance Paths, in June 2014. Experts from MMM Group’s sustainability team sit on, or lead, three Canada Green Building Council Technical Advisory Groups (TAGS): Energy & Environment, Materials, and Sites & Water. These Canadian TAGs have been integral to drafting the rating system and adapting it for the Canadian environment.
Of course, the first question developers and architects have about the new rating system is, “Will it be easier or more difficult to get certified?” The answer is: it’s different. It will be more difficult in some areas, but allow for more flexibility in others. While many of the technical details have changed, the new rating system is more about a shift in big-picture philosophy and a reprioritization of key environmental goals.
Perhaps the most noticeable changes for those ‘on the ground’ in building design and development will be around site impacts and materials.
A Change in Philosophy
With the initial development of LEED in the US, the philosophy behind this new way of measuring the ‘greenness’ of a building was to reward designs that did as little harm as possible to the environment. With LEEDv4, the overarching goal is to promote positive actions. Practically speaking, this new mantra is reflected in encouraging more integrative design practices and promoting transparency in reporting.
Also, with LEEDv4, the delineation between a LEED BD&C (Building Design and Construction) project and a LEED EB:O&M (Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance) has become more clear. The operations-related credits in BD&C, such as Measurement & Verification, have been weighted less given this rating system’s focus on design through the end of construction rather than post-occupancy performance.
LEEDv4 will be the most flexible LEED system released in Canada. There’s still the same level of detail, but more flexibility for building types and room for adaptation to conditions and realities.
Anyone familiar with LEED Canada v1, v1.1, and v2009 will appreciate the approach of one rating system to rule them all, i.e., one base system with various application guides to provide allow flexibility in building types that did not fit the traditional LEED paradigm (e.g., Core & Shell, Campus).
Combined into one 800+ page reference manual, LEEDv4 has adopted this bookshelf approach. The new reference guide now provides unique direction, and in some cases new available points, for each of the following building types:
- New Construction
- Core & Shell
- Warehouse and Distribution
This is a positive change in Canada, where we have struggled to fit some of these building types, especially warehouse and hospitality, into the LEED mould.
Changes to Credit Categories
There are two new credit categories in LEEDv4:
the Integrative Process and Location & Transportation.