by Peter Doo

How do you drive an entire industry to build “green,” sustainable buildings? The US Green Building Council (USGBC), with its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system, set the standard for building green. Through LEED, a green building can be rewarded an official certification. This certification incentivizes building owners, designers and contractors to look beyond energy savings to make a building that helps and does not harm its users, site, community and the earth.

Now USGBC is setting a new bar for the industry with LEED 2012.

LEED has often been criticized for not producing the results that it touts. While some of this criticism is justified, the USGBC has consistently responded with new requirements and updates (energy reporting for example) to address many of those criticisms. Meanwhile, the larger and undeniable impact of LEED has been in the transformation of the marketplace of products and services to make true sustainability more accessible to everyone. LEED 2012 promises to keep us all moving in that direction.

Some cities, counties and states have mandated LEED for new buildings in their jurisdictions. Projects pursuing certification under LEED 2012 will definitely find it more challenging to achieve the same ratings they received under the prior systems, LEED v2.2 and LEED 2009. Municipalities will have to determine whether they keep their mandate and escalate their sustainability goals with LEED 2012, or whether they relax or eliminate their mandate altogether.

What are some of the changes in the new LEED 2012? Several of the available credits in the Materials & Resources category, for example, require the disclosure and/or avoidance of chemical toxins in building products and materials. While this is likely to be an area of some controversy if adopted, this is where the next market transformative impact of LEED is likely to be.

On the energy efficiency side, the new referenced standard is ASHRAE 2010. This represents a significant increase in energy efficiency targets that project teams should be aware of.

What other changes are coming? How will it affect the industry as a whole and the Mid-Atlantic region in particular? And how do building owners and professionals navigate this shift? These questions and more will be addressed at a special event on Tuesday, June 12th in Bethesda, Maryland, “Anticipating the Changes and Challenges of LEED 2012,” a Natural Capital Series event. For more information and to register, go to http://naturalcapitalLEED2012.eventbrite.com.

Peter Doo, FAIA, President of Doo Consulting, LLC is a sustainability consultant with over 30 years of experience in building design and construction. Peter is a LEED AP and founder of the USGBC Maryland Chapter. Doo Consulting provides services to guide, coordinate and administrate the LEED certification process for all LEED rating systems. For more information, visit www.dooconsulting.net.

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