27 June 2009

What's different about LEED v3? The answer is both "Not much," and "A whole lot."

From a technical point of view, not much has changed. The credits are all very similar to LEED NC 2.2. There have been tweaks with the language as part of the "harmonization," and some of the targets have been upgraded.

However, the new credit weightings make such a difference, it may feel like an entirely new system.

Case in point: under LEED NC 2.2, I used to affirm that an architect could make every building LEED certifiable just by adopting the following credits as standard practice:
  • SS Prerequisite 1: Construction Activity Pollution Prevention
  • SS Credit 6.1: Stormwater Design: Quantity Control
  • SS Credit 6.2: Stormwater Design: Quality Control
  • SS Credit 7.2: Heat Island Effect: Roof
  • SS Credit 8: Light Pollution Reduction
  • WE Credit 1.1: Water Efficient Landscaping: Reduce by 50%
  • WE Credit 3.2: Water Use Reduction: 30% Reduction
  • EA Prerequisite 1: Fundamental Commissioning of the Building Energy Systems
  • EA Prerequisite 2: Minimum Energy Performance
  • EA Prerequisite 3: Fundamental Refrigerant Management
  • EA Credit 1: Optimize Energy Performance (21% / 4 points)
  • EA Credit 4: Enhanced Refrigerant Management
  • MR Prerequisite 1: Storage & Collection of Recyclables
  • MR Credit 2.1: Construction Waste Management: Divert 50% From Disposal
  • MR Credit 4.1: Recycled Content: 10% (post-consumer + 1/2 pre-consumer)
  • MR Credit 5.1: Regional Materials: 10% Extracted, Processed & Manufactured Regionally
  • MR Credit 7: Certified Wood
  • EQ Prerequisite 1: Minimum IAQ Performance
  • EQ Prerequisite 2: Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS) Control
  • EQ Credit 1: Outdoor Air Delivery Monitoring
  • EQ Credit 3.1: Construction IAQ Management Plan: During Construction
  • EQ Credit 3.2: Construction IAQ Management Plan: Before Occupancy
  • EQ Credit 4.1: Low-Emitting Materials: Adhesives & Sealants
  • EQ Credit 4.2: Low-Emitting Materials: Paints & Coatings
  • EQ Credit 4.3: Low-Emitting Materials: Carpet Systems
  • EQ Credit 4.4: Low-Emitting Materials: Composite Wood & Agrifiber Products
  • EQ Credit 5: Indoor Chemical & Pollutant Source Control
  • EQ Credit 6.1: Controllability of Systems: Lighting
  • ID Credit 2: LEED Accredited Professional
These points are all relatively easy to achieve, relatively inexpensive to implement, and gave you 26 out of 69 points - good enough for LEED certified under 2.2.

Now, those same credits only give you 31 out of 110 points - not even close to LEED certification. In the whole scheme of things, those credits were low performers. After all, is adding a bike rake really equivalent to providing public transporation access? We all knew it wasn't, and now the new system has made it official.

The question now comes, what are the credits that are relatively easy and inexpensive for the Owner to adopt? I submit the following:
  • SS Credit 2: Development Density & Community Connectivity (good for 5 points!)
  • Credit 4.3 alternative transportation—Low-Emitting and fuel-Efficient vehicles (3 points)
  • Credit 4.4 alternative transportation—Parking Capacity (2 points)
  • Credit 5.1 site Development—Protect or restore Habitat (1 point)
  • Credit 5.2 site Development—Maximize open space (1 point)
  • Credit 1 water Efficient Landscaping—No Potable Water Use or Irrigation (2 additional points)
  • Credit 1 optimize Energy Performance (go for 30% / 6 additional points; if the Waxman-Markey bill passes Congress, we may be required to be at 30% reduction in five years anyway.)
  • Credit 3 Enhanced Commissioning (2 points)
  • Credit 5 Measurement and verification (3 points; USGBC is now requiring Owners to submit operational performance data on a recurring basis as a
    precondition to certification under v3, so why not go the whole way?)
  • Credit 1.1 Building reuse—Maintain Existing walls, floors, and roof (3 points)
  • Credit 1.2 Building reuse—Maintain interior Nonstructural Elements (1 point)
  • Credit 7.2 thermal Comfort—verification (1 point)
Total: 61 points, a LEED 2009 Gold Building, and we haven't even taken into account the regional bonus credits.

Here is my LEED 2009 Scorecard for these credits.

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