The announcement of the USGBC membership ballot vote in favor of adopting LEED v4 announced on July 2 ended many months of debate over updates to what is arguably the leading green building rating system. Now, the conversation about what it all means is just beginning.
"With the overwhelming passage of LEED v4, our community once again embraced leadership and paved the way for the next generation of green building," said USGBC president and CEO Rick Fedrizzi, in an article posted on the USGB website following the announcement.
Building and sustainability professionals also had a lot to say about the announcement. Many expressed enthusiasm for the decision via Twitter.
“We join in congratulating @USGBC on the launch of #LEED v4. Pushing #green building to new heights helps ensure a #sustainable future,” tweeted Skanska USA (@SkanskaUSA2h).
Two of those who did not support approving v4 posted comments in a discussion section following a post on the LeedUser blog.
“Everyone I know that read the v4 draft from cover to cover voted against it. I wonder what percentage of the 86 percent actually read the LEED v4 drafts before voting, because there are some pretty obvious HUGE underlying issues with the way LEED v4 is currently written (vagueness, unnecessary complexity, epic documentation requirements for no reason....),” stated Melissa Wrolstad, senior project manager, CodeGreen Solutions. "I sincerely hope the USGBC spends some time cleaning up their requirements writing and decides to ditch the Adobe/Explorer LEED Online set-up (disaster) before launching.”
Rob Watson, CEO of EcoTech International and a former director of USGBC, had a different take. “I really wanted to approve the standard, but …. The field is exactly the WRONG place to 'scratch out' a system that actually works," he commented.
"I really hope that the very real technical and market issues that I believe USGBC has failed to address in v4 do not come back to bite us," he continued. "Ironically, we ended up with a 'speed is quality' argument to try and get the standard out. As the original Chair of the Steering Committee, I successfully fought most early attempts to put standards out prematurely because of the potential harm to market uptake–and that was when we were only doing a few tens of millions of [square feet] per year. Now that we have some real volume, I really hope I'm wrong in fearing that a v4 misstep on the heels of the 2009 functionality nightmare could winnow LEED down to a shadow of its former self.”
The American High-Performance Buildings Coalition, which launched last year and has been a vocal critic of the LEED development process, expressed disappointment in the passage. “We are concerned that USGBC announced the approval of LEED v4 before it has even finished reviewing the comments, objections and reasons accompanying the various negative votes submitted, many of which were on behalf of not just a single individual, but entire industries," it said in a statement on the vote. For more on objections from wood producers, click here.
Overall, however, it appears the majority are simply looking forward to moving ahead, now that development process is complete.
“LEED v4 has passed!!! Get ready to learn more about EPDs, LCA and EUI!” tweeted Bill Worthen, FAIA, under his Twitter handle @urbanfabrick.
Some also raised questions.
“Life Cycle approach to MR coming to #LEED v4. Are you ready?” asked Elixir Environmental ?(@ElixirEnviron) in a tweet. And in a comment on the USGBC website, David Dominguez, an architect with Edmonds International, asked, “Has USGBC said any deadline for projects to enroll? How long will LEED v3 still be available?”
“Does anyone have insight as to the effect other green rating systems had on LEED v4?” asked Larry Sims, principal, Studio4, on the LeedUser blog.
USGBC will begin offering education on LEED v4 via webinar this summer, prior to the official launch at this year's Greenbuild International Conference & Expo. In the end, a tweet by Advanced Solutions ?(@GetASI1) seems to sum it all up.
“Time to study! RT @architectmag Look out, sustainable designers: #LEED v.4 is here.”