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Project teams find LEED v4 answers on LEEDuser

December 5, 2017
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In recent months, activity on the LEEDuser forum has shifted to LEED v4, charting strong project team engagement. Although new registrations for LEED 2009 closed in 2016, there remain thousands of those projects in the pipeline to certification. However, judging by activity on the popular LEEDuser forum, LEED mindshare and innovation is transitioning to LEED v4.

Out of the hundreds of questions and responses LEED professionals post on the LEEDuser forum every week, roughly three out of four relate to LEED v4.

The shift we've observed on the LEEDuser forum reflects a shift in innovation. Most LEED certifications are still under LEED 2009, but people know LEED 2009 pretty well, and they know how to achieve the credits. Project teams that are pushing the envelope are exploring the newer concepts embedded in LEED v4.

Popular LEEDuser credit forums for LEED v4 projects include:

  • MRc: Building product disclosure and optimization: Environmental product declarations, where project teams are figuring out how to gather EPDs for LEED compliance—a process that's getting easier over time.
  • INc: Innovation: Project teams are discussing innovation points for active design, walkable project sites, clean construction and other newer topics.
  • EQc: Low-emitting materials: This has been a challenge for project teams adopting to a new structure, but teams are sharing tips and moving forward on products from engineered wood to furniture.
  • WEc: Cooling tower water use: Teams are exploring what systems allow them to earn the new credit for BD+C projects,while saving the most water and energy on their projects.

The activity on the LEEDuser forum is as strong as it's ever been, eight years and 70,000 forum comments since BuildingGreen initially launched it in 2009 as a support tool for LEED 2009 projects. BuildingGreen relaunched LEEDuser in September 2017 with a completely updated look. It's now mobile-friendly and has new search tools to find the exact information you need. Take a look at the new homepage, which features a quick video showing how LEED professionals can take advantage of this resource.

Explore LEEDuser

Call for volunteers for LEED Regional Steering Committees

December 4, 2017
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USGBC is looking for innovative sustainability professionals and experts in the design, construction and operations of buildings and communities to serve as volunteers on the newly created Regional LEED Steering Committees.

In 2010, USGBC developed the LEED International Roundtable as an advisory network playing a pivotal role in enhancing LEED as a global framework for green building. In just the past few years, Roundtable members have collaborated with LEED staff to develop and publish 30 international alternative compliance paths (ACPs) for LEED v4 and more than 100 ACPs for LEED 2009. The work of this group has been critical to the growth and applicability of the rating system, and LEED has now reached projects and professionals in more than 167 countries and territories.

In the coming year, we will develop this concept even further in order to integrate, scale and formalize this work within the LEED development process by establishing LEED Regional Steering Committees in six key markets across the globe.

Each Regional LEED Steering Committee will be an integrated group of volunteers charged with prioritizing and overseeing LEED technical development activities in its respective region. They will review, develop and recommend technical solutions and guidance to address LEED implementation issues and facilitate market uptake in their regions, while ensuring that technical solutions maintain rigor and consider market leadership and feasibility.

The following LEED committees are now accepting applications for members:

  • Latin America and the Caribbean Regional LEED Steering Committee
  • Europe Regional LEED Steering Committee
  • Middle East Regional LEED Steering Committee
  • Africa Regional LEED Steering Committee
  • Greater China Regional LEED Steering Committee
  • Asia Pacific Regional LEED Steering Committee

The application period will close on Wednesday, Jan. 31 at 8 p.m. Pacific Time.

Who should apply?

Ideal candidates are familiar with the LEED rating system and have one or more of the specific areas of expertise sought by the committees. All Regional LEED Steering Committee volunteers must be employees of USGBC member organizations. They are talented professionals who can commit to regular calls (average two hours per quarter), offline review and comment on technical rating system language (average two to three hours per call), and participate in additional calls as necessary.

Each volunteer position will be for a first, two-year term beginning in early 2018. Volunteers are eligible to serve a maximum of four consecutive years total on a given committee.

Each Regional LEED Steering Committee will be led by a volunteer chair and vice chair, with up to 15 appointed members-at‐large.

Important dates:

  • December 4: Application period opens
  • January 31: Application period closes
  • February: LEED Steering Committee reviews and USGBC Board of Directors appoints candidates
  • March: Applicants notified
  • March–April: New member orientation and training
  • April 2018–December 2019: First term for new committee volunteers

To get started, take a look at the current volunteer opportunities or learn more about LEED committees.

2018 LEED Committees Organizational Chart

LEED Committees Organizational Chart 2018

Apply to join a Regional LEED Steering Committee

LEED credits help protect wildlife

December 4, 2017
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USGBC values the critical role that animals and wildlife play in maintaining a healthy planet for all. As species continue to face interruptions to their habitats and to their migration, hunting and mating patterns, USGBC is celebrating Wildlife Conservation Day by highlighting how buildings can help, rather than hurt, wildlife populations.

Through the #TheresACreditForThat campaign on social media, we showcase the LEED v4 credits that are most effective in promoting a healthy and sustainable world for all. Here are a few of our favorite credits that can help make buildings safer for the wildlife that surrounds them.

Bird Collision Deterrence: BD+C, O+M, 1 point

The intent of this pilot credit is to reduce bird injury and mortality from in-flight collisions with buildings.

Up to one billion birds are killed every year due to building collision. Glass presents various threats to birds, such as reflecting vegetation or landscapes that give birds the illusion of clear air space, or making greenery inside of buildings visible, luring birds into the glass.

Collisions are not just an issue for skyscrapers. Fifty-six percent of annual collisions occur at low-rise (four- to 11-story) buildings, and 44 percent occur at residences (one to three stories). There are multiple ways that buildings of all kind can comply with this credit.

  • Shut off unnecessary exterior lighting at night and during migration periods, such as rooftop lighting and floodlights. Light motion sensors that only detect humans are often cost-effective and energy-efficient.

Light Pollution Reduction: BD+C, O+M, 1 point

The intent of this credit is to increase night sky access, improve nighttime visibility and reduce the consequences of development for wildlife and people.

Light pollution is incredibly harmful to many animal species. Wildlife that hunt or forage at night may be unable to feed; interrupted mating patterns lead to measurable reductions in population sizes; insects such as moths, which help pollinate the world’s flora, are often killed by outdoor lights; and migratory birds that rely on stars to guide them during migration may become disoriented.

Buildings can reduce their light pollution in many ways.

  • Adopt the BUG rating method to measure backlight, uplight and glare in your building project. This measure will help you classify where your light pollution weaknesses are and inform the kinds of practices you should adopt to do better.

  • Advocate to your city to adopt a “Lights Out” program to raise awareness about the problems that light pollution causes for animals.

Site Development—Protect or Restore Habitat: BD+C, O+M, 1–2 points

The intent of this credit is to conserve existing natural areas and restore damaged areas to provide habitat and promote biodiversity.

The preservation and conservation of native ecosystems, including soils, sensitive species habitat, wildlife corridors and hydrology, contributes to maintaining overall ecosystem health. However, habitat loss from development is one of the leading forces driving species endangerment and extinction.

Building projects at every level of development can adopt strategies that protect or restore habitats.

  • Teams that are building on previously disturbed areas can incorporate restoration into their project through landscape design that highlights reinvigorating depleted soil and replanting native plants that form essential animal habitats.

  • For existing buildings that are limited in their ability to provide long-term conservation for their building site, consider an off-site approach, such as providing financial support to a conservation organization or recognized land trust.

These three credits encompass a diverse set of ways that builders and designers can incorporate wildlife protection into their plans. Adopt these strategies and join a global movement to make this planet safer for all living things.

Explore the LEED credit library

Report reveals that LEED in China is accelerating

November 10, 2017
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According to a newly published report from CBRE and USGBC, as Chinese builders move in accordance with the nation’s 13th Five Year Plan, green building space is expected to reach two billion square meters by 2020, up from current estimates of 600 million square meters of green building space spread across more than 300 cities.

Between 2006 and 2016, LEED-certified projects had a compound annual growth rate of 77 percent, making China the global leader for LEED projects outside of the United States.

The "2017 China Green Building Report: From Green to Health” notes, additionally, that as of August 2017, more than 48 million square meters of projects across 54 Chinese cities have been LEED-certified.

The report also ranks the top 20 cities for LEED certification in 2017:

City 2017 LEED-certified Space (10,000 square meters) Cumulative Growth Since 2014
Beijing 1,003 58 percent
Shanghai 834 118 percent
Chongqing 412 10 percent
Shenzhen 264 225 percent
Wuhan 250 29 percent
Guangzhou 231 105 percent
Chengdu 208 131 percent
Hangzhou 172 196 percent
Tianjin 172 111 percent
Suzhou 171 108 percent
Nanjing 124 69 percent
Shenyang 106 87 percent
Wuxi 84 143 percent
Nanchang 66 2908 percent
Zhengzhou 50 212 percent
Guiyang 45 239 percent
Foshan 43 106 percent
Dalian 41 496 percent
Hefei 40 1289 percent
Xiamen 29 74 percent

Additional findings related to LEED:

  • In the past four quarters, the average occupancy rate of LEED projects in China was 81.7 percent, which is 1.5 percent higher than that of traditional offices. By comparison, the average occupancy of LEED Platinum projects in China was 86.7 percent, 10 percent higher than traditional offices. This indicates a significant increase in occupant demand for LEED Platinum structures.
  • Since 2014, LEED Platinum spaces have grown more than 200 percent and now account for 22 percent of all LEED-certified space in China, up from 14 percent.
  • As of Q2 2017, over 2.22 million square meters of quality office space had earned LEED Platinum certification.

The report is the third in a series of studies conducted by CBRE and USGBC. In 2016, “Towards Excellence: Market Performance of Green Commercial Buildings in the Greater China Region" found that LEED-certified Grade A office buildings exceeded 5.6 million square meters across 10 major cities in greater China, an increase of 7.4 percent from the previous year, accounting for 28 percent of the total market.

The 2016 report built upon CBRE’s 2015 report, "New Era of China’s Green Buildings," which found that rental premiums for LEED-certified Grade A offices in key mainland China cities—including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Chengdu—enjoy a higher average rental performance ranging from 10 to 30 percent, and are better positioned to weather a downward commercial real estate market.

In China’s tier two cities, such as Chengdu, Tianjin, Hangzhou and Wuhan, LEED-certified Grade A office buildings cover a floor area of nearly one million square meters, accounting for an estimated 18 percent of the total Grade A office area in those cities.

Download the new report

Parksmart and LEED: Creating ripples beyond the building

November 3, 2017
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Real estate owners are amplifying the sustainable impact of their properties by embracing both LEED and Parksmart certifications. Parksmart, the world’s only rating system advancing sustainable mobility through smarter parking structure design and operation, expands sustainable mobility opportunities for both tenants and visitors.

New LEED Building Design and Construction and existing LEED Operations and Maintenance projects, under both the LEED 2009 and LEED v4 rating systems, can automatically earn credit toward Parksmart recognition. An office tower atop a parking structure or a retail mall containing structured parking can be doubly recognized, earning both certifications and creating ripples that extend far beyond the building itself.

Not only is a property’s LEED certification also recognized by Parksmart, but specific credits such as LEED commissioning, construction, life cycle and renewable energy are as well. In fact, a LEED-certified project can already be halfway to achieving Parksmart certification. To assess whether your facility is ready to achieve Parksmart certification, please download our Owner’s Checklist.

The recently released Parksmart and LEED Synergies v2 crosswalk streamlines the recognition process between both rating systems and helps parking asset owners leverage LEED certification into achieving both LEED and Parksmart certification.

Read more about how garages can benefit from both LEED and Parksmart.

Several projects have taken advantage of the synergies between the rating systems:

Bank of America Plaza

Brookfield’s Bank of America Plaza drew from their LEED certification to achieve Parksmart recognition early on. The 2,128-space garage serves a 55-story office tower in downtown Los Angeles and is a hub for the surrounding community. Sustainability measures implemented at the garage that helped achieve both certifications include energy-efficient lighting and ventilation systems, green cleaning practices, low-emitting vehicle spaces, bicycle parking amenities, electric vehicle fueling stations and access to sustainable transportation options.

Bank of America Plaza

“The Parksmart certification validated all the work/policies we implemented in the garage when the building first achieved LEED status in 2009–2010,” explains Mario Izaguirre, ABM Parking Facility Manager at Bank of America Plaza. “Knowing that the garage holds its own certification makes us all even more proud to be here, and the dual certification helps our marketing efforts and leasing discussions with prospective clients, too."

811 Main

Hines LEED Platinum property certified under Core and Shell, 811 Main (formerly BG Group Place) is currently recertifying under LEED O+M. The Houston property is wrapped in a glass façade, hosts a vegetative roof, employs efficient lighting and ventilation technologies and a condensate recovery system to reduce the property’s resource consumption, and provides commuters with local and sustainable transportation options.

811 Main

“811 Main was developed adjacent to a new public transportation feature, the Metro Light Rail, with sustainability in mind,” adds Winpark’s Nichole Crossland. “The parking garage’s green roof, condensate recovery system and its lighting controls are key to both the LEED and Parksmart certifications, so it’s wonderful to hear that the overlap is now recognized. Both LEED and Parksmart certifications contributed to the BOMA International Outstanding Building of the Year TOBY Award.

Canopy Parking

Canopy Airport Parking in Commerce City, Colorado, makes sustainability central to its development and construction, and it set out to build the most sustainable parking lot possible. The result was an award-winning carpark that achieved Parksmart Pioneer and LEED Gold certification, was recognized by the International Parking Institute as the most sustainable garage of the year in 2012 and won the National Parking Association’s 2012 Innovation Award for the Innovative Sustainability Project of the Year.

Recycled construction materials, commissioning, energy-efficient fixtures and responsible construction waste management were among the strategies employed at this location near the airport. Canopy is 80 percent more efficient than a comparable traditional parking structure, is powered by solar and wind farms and employs geothermal heating and cooling.

Canopy Parking

Photo credit: Matthew Staver

“LEED and Parksmart are two sides of the same coin, and doing both together generates even greater return on our investment,” explains John Schmid, CEO of Propark America and developer of the Canopy Airport Parking, the first project to achieve dual LEED and Parksmart certification. “Focusing on, for example, a commercial building as a building as well as a multi-modal transportation hub with impact beyond the building is like compound interest. Our impact ripples out through the building community and the transportation community. What’s better than that?”

Parksmart benefits everyone, from building owners and property managers to tenants, visitors and neighbors. Certified parking structures reduce environmental impact, improve energy efficiency and reduce energy consumption. Parksmart structures integrate sustainable mobility services and technologies, diversify mobility options, promote alternative modes of transportation, and reduce operational costs up to 25 percent compared to the national average.

If you own or manage a LEED property, or are building one, its parking structure could help your community turn to the corner to more sustainable mobility. Parksmart offers you guidance for and recognition of your thoughtful parking design and management.

Reach out to Parksmart via email or call 800.795.1747 to find out how you can get double recognition for your sustainable building work.

Explore the crosswalk details

Agility and evolution: How LEED is moving with the market

November 2, 2017
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Growing and changing to meet the demands of the marketplace and capitalizing on new technologies, ideas and products has always been intrinsic to the character of LEED. Continuous improvement keeps the rating system dynamic in a world that is constantly evolving.

LEED v4 has transformed the market through the leadership of project teams working in more than 3,000 projects around the world. In order to stay agile and keep LEED as the premier global green building rating system, we are prepared to again move the market forward by making changes that reflect the lessons learned in the four years since LEED v4 was first released.

At Greenbuild 2017 in Boston, we will talk about what’s next for LEED: LEED v4.1.

What LEED v4.1 is and what it isn’t

LEED v4.1 will provide new opportunities for every project type including Building Design and Construction, Operations and Maintenance, Interior Design and Construction, Neighborhood Development, Residential and Cities and Communities. This is not, however, a full version change to the LEED rating systems. Instead, it is the next evolution for the rating system, using the existing credit requirements as a foundation. We will use new strategies and technologies to provide projects with new options to meet the requirements and shift priorities to present new ways to achieve the existing credit intents.

USGBC will follow its existing governance and present LEED v4.1 for public comment, followed by a member ballot in 2018. We will also allow project teams to test the rating system while LEED v4 remains open for use, to create a streamlined experience for project teams.

LEED v4.1 is a critical step in ensuring that we continue to deliver on the vision of green buildings for all. It also means that as we work toward this goal, we are paying close attention to ensuring that these buildings perform, and that they fulfill the promise of their design.

This new version will include years of market feedback, lessons learned through project certifications and investments in new technologies. This is what innovation looks like. This is agility and evolution.

Join us in Boston to learn more at "All Buildings and Places In: Data, Performance, LEED and the Ever-evolving Built Environment" on Wed., November 8, from 4–6 p.m.

Register for Greenbuild

Boost your project savvy with LEED v4 submittal tips

October 31, 2017
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Over the past several years, GBCI reviewers have reviewed hundreds of LEED v4 projects, and that means reviewing a great deal of documentation. Based on what we've seen, we've compiled a list of tips that project teams should keep in mind while working on their LEED v4 projects.

These tips are available in two formats: in the Resources tab of each credit in the LEED credit library and as downloadable documents. As more LEED v4 projects are reviewed, these tips will be updated. Remember, the credit library is the place to go for the most updated credits requirements, guidance and resources. If you choose to download, please note the date found on the bottom of every page to ensure you have the most up-to-date version.

The tips are designed to supplement the rating system and documentation requirements outlined in the credit language and the credit forms (sample forms available here), but are not exhaustive. Projects are responsible for being familiar with, and adhering to, all published requirements in place at the time a project is registered.

We want to hear from you. Let us know in the comments section below if these tips are helpful and in what other ways we can support you.

Download the tips:

Social equity pilot credits added for LEED ND and LEED O+M

October 31, 2017
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This year's Atlantic hurricane season has been an example of how changes in the environment can wreak devastating impacts on entire communities. When large areas face destructive storms or fires, the most vulnerable parts of a community suffer the most. This kind of impact happens on a less visible basis in building projects all around the world. Although development can help communities flourish, too often gentrification prices out or leaves behind longtime residents. The LEED social equity pilot credits are designed to reduce disparities by recognizing projects that extend the benefits of green building to all.

As part of the ongoing effort to embrace social equity as a critical aspect of sustainability, several new social equity pilot credits are available to project teams pursuing LEED for Neighborhood Development (LEED ND) or LEED Building Operations and Maintenance (LEED O+M).

Like the original social equity pilot credits for LEED Building Design and Construction (BD+C) projects, these pilot credits reach beyond the project team to address the ongoing operations of existing buildings and the larger community connected to buildings and neighborhoods. Developed by the LEED Social Equity Working Group, the pilot credits align with USGBC's guiding principle to foster social equity in the 2017–2019 strategic plan by building social, environmental and economic justice for those affected by or supporting LEED projects.

Dahlia Campus

Dahlia Campus, an early adopter of the LEED social equity within the community pilot credit, developed its design to integrate various needs of the community while providing for vulnerable populations in a way that brought people together. The building, rooted within its neighborhood in Denver, Colorado, enhances social equity as part of its function.

The three new pilot credits include:

  • Social Equity within the Operations and Maintenance Staff: This credit will encourage project owners to create more supportive, healthier and more equitable environments for the people who keep green buildings functioning as designed. These enhancements might include life-skills training, support for financial literacy or subsidies for personal advancement, with an option to demonstrate participation in socially responsible reporting methods, such as B Corp, or other frameworks for assessment, such as GRESB.
  • Social Equity within the Community (O+M version): The Social Equity within the Community credit for building operations requires projects to explore ways to engage and participate in the community around them. The credit is intended to be part of an ongoing process where community needs are assessed and evaluated using one of two credit pathways, a SEED network evaluation or partnering with existing community organizations. The U.S. EPA also offers the Environmental Justice Screening and Mapping Tool (EJSCREEN) for evaluating strategies to support social equity.
  • Social Equity within the Community (ND version): Much as existing LEED ND credits connect community outreach, affordable housing and economic viability, this credit will require development plans to reflect active community engagement. Projects will use the SEED evaluator tool to better understand who their community includes and identify the needs of vulnerable populations, implementing strategies to work with the community, creating insights for improvement based on the findings of the evaluation.

A demographic index of Houston, Texas, from the EJSCREEN tool reveals the distribution of low-income residents and communities of color, which aligns with many areas of the city hardest hit by Hurricane Harvey and associated flooding.

In the face of urgent disparities, LEED has gone beyond leadership to transform expectations of how the built environment can enhance our quality of life. With the ongoing integration of social equity into the rating system, LEED v4 extends our mission beyond the environment to ask, "What can a LEED project accomplish?"

Explore the pilot credit library

USGBC and CSTC Collaborate to Promote LEED Data Center Certifications in China

October 18, 2017
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LEED-certified green data centers use less energy and fewer resources

Oct. 18, 2017—(Shanghai, China)—Today, during the first Greenbuild China conference being held in Shanghai, USGBC and China Software Testing Center (CSTC) signed an MOU to collaborate on promoting sustainable, energy-efficient LEED data centers in China.

“Energy efficiency in our data centers is an incredibly critical issue because of the estimated continued rapid growth of direct energy use in data centers and the resulting impact on both the power grid and industries across China and the world,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, President and CEO, USGBC and GBCI. “LEED-certified data centers provide all the benefits of green building, including reduced energy use, reduced impact of the building on the environment, resource conservation and a better indoor environmental quality.”

“CSTC has been actively following the national green development strategy,” said Fawang Liu, Executive Vice Director of CSTC. “We have published data center energy evaluation guidelines and other white papers. LEED is highly recognized and authoritative in the global data center industry. CSTC will work closely with USGBC to organize Chinese industry experts to set up a LEED Advisory Committee for data centers, to discuss the adaptability and feedback of LEED standards in China. At the same time, CSTC will also leverage our own resources and work with industry colleagues to promote the development of green data centers and contribute to energy conservation.”

“China is the ideal market for this collaboration on data centers, and CSTC is the perfect partner,” added Ramanujam.

The Chinese data center market is currently growing, with research analyst firm Technavio predicting a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 13 percent over the next four years because of an increased reliance by multinational and domestic enterprises on cloud storage and other colocation solutions.

China is currently the largest market for LEED green building outside the U.S., and it continues to be a main player in the global green building movement, with more than 1,000 LEED-certified projects in the country. The Chinese government has also deemed sustainable growth as a high priority.

LEED is a globally recognized symbol of excellence in green building. LEED certification ensures electricity cost savings, lower carbon emissions and a healthier environment.


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