Ballot over changes to LEED system postponed

Proposed changes to the LEED system of accrediting energy efficient buildings will not be put to a vote until next year.

The US Green Building Council (USGBC), which initially set up the accreditation and now administers it, will not implement the changes until June 2013 at the earliest.

LEED 2012 has therefore been renamed LEED v4 and will give users and stakeholders a better opportunity to review the program before voting.

Scot Horst, senior vice president of LEED, said: "LEED pushes the envelope to bring transformation to the market - that's what we do.

"We remain committed to that, and to making sure that what we deliver is complete and can be successfully implemented."

Two of the main changes to the system of accreditation which were proposed under LEED 2012 were the implementation of new credits.

One such credit, both of which are in the area of materials and resources, is for material ingredient reporting, meaning that firms must state exactly what goes into building materials.

The second is to give buildings extra points for avoiding chemicals which are of concern to the USGBC.

A problem is represented with this latter credit as many of the desired properties of materials comes from the inclusion of these chemicals.

Making a building energy efficient for example may mean that such materials are needed and avoiding them could prevent this overall effect from being achieved.

Two American senators, Mary Landrieu and David Vitter, are particularly opposed to the changes and have expressed their doubts in a letter to the General Services Administration (GSA).

The letter said: "If USGBC does not reconsider its anti-chemical proposals in LEED 2012, we respectfully request that GSA stop using the LEED rating system, in favor of more performance based standards."

Since the GSA is the biggest federal government agency to adopt LEED, its endorsement of the changes are tantamount to a US government approval, the senators argued.

Senator Landrieu and Senator Vitter suggest that a requirement to do away with the most effective materials and techniques would be arbitrary.

They have also expressed the view that it could be damaging to both the jobs market and the economy.

Such arguments appeal to many at a time when growth is needed to kick-start the world of business and work as it is suffering due to global financial problems.

The letter said: "We understand GSA's interest in sustainability and energy efficiency throughout the federal building landscape.

"However, we believe that the federal government should not base its choices on arbitrary restrictions that may not allow for the use of the most effective materials."

The most recent draft of the proposals to change the LEED accreditation will be available for public comment from later this year.

Anyone with an interest will be able to view the documents between October and December ahead of the vote scheduled for next year.

LEED is often reviewed and updated in order to keep pace with the innovations and changes which occur in the green building industry.

As well as measuring the overall performance of a completed building it also takes the environmental impact of the construction process into consideration.

Rick Fedrizzi, president and chief executive officer of the USGBC, said: "We want to do everything we can to ensure that the market can fully embrace LEED v4 because it represents significant progress on carbon reduction and human health."

LEED is a universally recognised system of judging buildings for their environmental properties and there are now a number of national Green Building Councils set up across the world.

Any changes made by the USGBC will have wider impacts on other countries and the way in which they use the accreditation.ADNFCR-3216-ID-801378058-ADNFCR

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