How will LEED V5 affect your future projects?
The world of sustainable construction is constantly evolving, and LEED certification is no exception.
Until now, the latest version was LEED V4.1, succeeding LEED V4. The development of LEED V4 spanned over three years and engaged hundreds of volunteers and thousands of stakeholders worldwide. This version already emphasized on criteria such as energy efficiency, water management, indoor air quality, and material sustainability. The LEED V4.1 update aimed to be more inclusive and transparent, simplifying some criteria and reducing complexity for project teams.
However, recently, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) participated in the Greenbuild conference held in Washington, DC, at the end of September. During this event, one of the major topics was the upcoming version of LEED, called LEED V5, with a first draft scheduled for the first quarter of 2024. This new version incorporates issues such as equity, health, ecosystem preservation, and resilience to climate change.
Focus on LEED V5:
The new version of LEED has three main goals, which make up the new point distribution:
Climate Action (50% of the points)
Quality of Life (25% of the points)
Ecological Conservation and Restoration (25% of the points)
Decarbonization: By far, the biggest focus of LEED V5 is decarbonization. LEED V5 includes strategies to reduce emissions from building operations, materials, construction, refrigerants, and transportation. In this version, all buildings will undergo a projection of greenhouse gas emissions up to 2050 to help teams understand the future impacts of their decisions on carbon.
The new version addresses different sources of carbon emissions in buildings:
Operational emissions resulting from the energy used to operate the buildings.
Embodied carbon* emissions related to the construction of buildings.
Carbon emissions related to transportation to and from the building.
Embodied Carbon*: Another significant development is the introduction of the concept of embodied carbon to encourage buildings to measure and reduce their carbon footprint throughout their lifecycle. LEED V5 could award up to eight points and include a prerequisite for all buildings to measure the embodied carbon of their structure and envelope and potentially reduce their embodied carbon.
Resilience: After recent extreme weather events, resilience has become a concern. LEED V5 proposes introducing a credit for the resilience of indoor spaces to cope with episodic events. For example, a building designed to withstand natural disasters and serve as a community resource after a catastrophe, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, and fires, could earn LEED credits under LEED V5.
Equity: A new prerequisite is introduced to assess the social impact of projects, as well as a prerequisite for considering the needs of occupants for indoor environments. To earn the most points in this area, project teams will need to demonstrate that they have considered factors such as ethnicity, income, access to green spaces, and the disabilities of people who will spend time in their buildings.
Water Reuse: Water reuse is emphasized with a separate credit to encourage projects to reuse water or be ready to do so.
Credit Categorization: LEED V5 simplifies credit understanding by grouping them into three main categories: Climate Action, Quality of Life, and Ecological Conservation and Restoration.
Platform Update: The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is working on a new technological platform to host LEED, to improve the user experience of LEED Online.
However, it's important to keep in mind that the development process is still ongoing, and committees are debating ideas. This information is preliminary and provides an overview of the directions.
*Embodied carbon emissions are the CO2 emissions associated with the extraction, refining, processing, and transportation of materials used in a product, as well as the transportation of the finished product to its initial use. These emissions are often referred to as "hidden" emissions.
What about Existing Buildings (LEED V5 O+M)?
According to the USGBC, 60 to 75% of greenhouse gas emissions in rural communities come from existing buildings, and the V5 includes updates to credits and the scorecard for existing buildings to reward those on the path to becoming very low carbon emission. In this context, LEED V5 will reward buildings that create long-term decarbonization pathways and 5-year capital plans and grant a 12-point credit for greenhouse gas reduction.
Difference from LEED V4.1:
Overall, LEED V5 adopts a more holistic and interconnected approach where credits are designed to work together towards a common goal: creating more sustainable buildings. While LEED V4.1 focused on energy efficiency and operational carbon reduction, LEED V5 goes further by addressing all significant sources of carbon emissions in buildings. Additionally, while LEED V4.1 recognized the importance of embodied carbon, LEED V5 delves deeper by working on adopting minimum requirements related to embodied carbon emissions.
Both LEED V4.1 and LEED V5 place importance on indoor air quality and human health. However, LEED V5 introduces a new credit for the ongoing assessment and verification of indoor air quality, including indicators for infection risk management. This development for LEED V5 is reinforced by the introduction of a credit category dedicated to equity, with the goal of creating accessible and inclusive buildings for all. This makes LEED V5 a more comprehensive and integrated rating system than its predecessor.
Do you have a project aiming to achieve LEED certification and need support? Contact us.
LEED BLOG SERIES
A whole series of LEED Blogs is available on our website. Don't forget to check our numerous resources to help you in obtaining LEED certification! Green Building Consulting & Engineering | News (greendesignconsulting.com)