The latest Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system isn’t all that different from the previous one, but Jeremy Kuhre says there are a few differences of which people should be aware.

Kuhre, a LEED AP specialist with the Sustainable Solutions Corporation, made the most of Thursday’s hour-long webinar called “LEED v4, Are You Ready? We Are!” to compare and contrast LEED 2009 against LEED v4, which is set to debut at next month’s Greenbuild show in Philadelphia.

“LEED is a moving target, always changing,” Kuhre said during the first of two webinars designed to increase awareness of the new version of the rating system for the design, construction, operation and maintenance of green buildings, homes and neighborhoods.

“But most credits from [LEED] 2009 have been retained in some measure in LEED v4.”

Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), LEED is intended to help building owners and operators find and implement ways to be environmentally responsible and resource-efficient. Proposals to modify the LEED standards are advanced and publicly reviewed by the USGBC’s nearly 20,000-member organizations.

Kuhre said LEED v4 will “significantly” raise the bar to a greener, more sustainable direction by rewarding early adopters and progressive designers and builders.

Chief among the differences in the latest LEED system and the existing one is the standard by which they are based, Kuhre said. LEED 2009 uses ASHRAE 90.1-2007 as its basic guideline, while LEED v4 relies on a more stringent and up-to-date baseline in ASHRAE 90.1-2010. One example is the 69 Energy Star requirements for lower costs and building energy use as called for ASHRAE 90.1-2007, which is well below the tougher 75 Energy Star requirement called for in ASHRAE 90.1-2010.

Another of the more notable differences comes in the integrative process of LEED v4 that requires all the stakeholders in a building’s construction – the architects, contractors, etc. – to work together to assure the project’s highest possible energy efficiency.

Other modifications of the LEED ratings system can be seen in the location and transportation guidelines. Like its predecessor, LEED v4 still rewards those organizations who reserve five percent of their parking spaces for green vehicles. It additionally calls for two percent of parking spaces to be reserved for refueling stations.

Another difference between the two rating systems deals with light pollution reduction as LEED v4 has eased the once-complicated certification process that saw just 26 percent of all projects achieve LEED 2009 certification. The IESNA Backlight, Uplight and Glare (BUG) system offers a new and more user-friendly prescriptive path, Kuhre said.

Overall, the newest LEED system will feature 21 different market sectors that are LEED-certifiable, including new and existing datacenters, hospitality, existing retails and multifamily midrise among others.

“Chances are that – for whatever project you have – not only is [being LEED-certified] possible, but there’s likely a ratings system for it,” Kuhre said.

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