The U.S. Green Building Council has updated its certification criteria in what is being called LEED Version 3.
The new criteria features a 100-point credit scale for all categories. Each category had its own scale in the previous system. Now, more weight is given to projects that reduce energy use and carbon emissions.
New projects will have to be certified under the new LEED standard beginning June 26. Existing and ongoing projects registered under LEED Version 2 can be transferred to the new standard free of charge through 2009, according to USGBC.
A new component of the ratings system includes LEED 2009 credits for regional environmental priorities.
“Because environmental priorities differ among various regions of the country-the challenges in the Southeast differ from those in the Northwest, for example-regionally specific credits give LEED a way to directly respond to diverse, regionally grounded issues,” said Brendan Owens, Vice President of Technical Development, USGBC, in a press release.
Six specific environmental issues within each region were identified by USGBC’s regional councils, chapters and affiliates.
For instance, the regional criteria for urban Florida puts more emphasis on decreased reliance on fossil fuels, reuse of existing building stock, decreased reliance on insufficient municipal wastewater plants and utilization of abundant local sunshine.
The regional criteria for rural Michigan prioritizes preservation of prime agricultural land, reduction of light trespass into neighboring natural habitats, and minimizing the amount and improving the quality of stormwater into the Great Lakes.
The green building sector is experiencing strong growth. The number of buildings approved under EPA’s Energy Star rating system jumped 60 percent in 2008.
Four out of five U.S. cities have identified sustainable growth as a top priority.