Recently, the U.S. Green Building Council released a new June report focusing on the expected evolution of the LEED green building rating system. The perspective of the report emphasizes the urgency for swift decarbonization of the building industry and sticks to the 2030 and 2050 targets of the Paris Climate Accord. LEED has always understood the importance of continual evolution of green building standards. And with this report, LEED is recognizing that their current standards are not reflecting the amount of urgency needed to tackle the climate crisis.
So, what stays the same and what will change? Decarbonization, human health and wellbeing, water-efficiency, and all the things LEED is known for will only be emphasized even more. However, there are three areas where LEED has introduced unprecedented expectations: changes within new construction requirements, data tracking and operations, and a new mysterious LEED affiliated streamlined platform.
Changes for New Constructions
LEED is currently in the process of updating minimum operational energy standards and has suggested that some time in the near future new constructions will require zero carbon readiness for normal operations. Future LEED new constructions will also see minimal requirements for electric vehicle charging. Additionally, climate resilient locations and buildings will see further emphasis as LEED introduces building specific survivability assessments for new constructions. It is unclear what these survivability assessments will look like, but it is clear that the location of new constructions will play a larger role during LEED rating.
Stricter standards for new constructions, a focus on operation standards and a three year time limit for a LEED building design and construction certifications aims to push the industry towards LEED for existing buildings: operations and maintenance.
Emphasis on Data Tracking and Operations
It appears LEED has interest in becoming more than just a rating system, but also a tool for corporate ESG reporting. In order to achieve this, LEED will leverage ESG reporting frameworks and increase its focus on data tracking and reporting by rewarding continuous performance tracking in hopes of it becoming the new norm. The increasing encouragement of performance tracking is LEED’s way of both acknowledging past discrepancies between theoretical design and the reality of operations and leaving room for the continual development of building operations and LEED standards.
A LEED Streamlined Platform
The most notable thing LEED introduced in this new report is a “streamlined platform to simplify compliance and promote meaningful engagement with projects throughout their life cycles.” While it is unclear as to what exactly will be streamlined, LEED is clearly aiming for scalability as they attempt to reduce the documentation burden and improve data management and reporting. This streamlined platform is undoubtedly far from implementation, but it most certainly will look very different from the way buildings are LEED certified today.
LEED is an ever changing green building rating system. Contact The Dragon Group to make sure your project is up to date on everything LEED.