Thursday, February 15, 2007

Version 3 of LEED

Title:LEED Version 3.0: Foundation for the Future
Author:Jessie Sackett, USGBC

It's an all too common frustration in the 21st century: we buy the fastest computer or the smallest digital camera or the flattest television, only to find it has become obsolete as soon as we get the packaging off. In an era of extraordinary technological advancement, we're no longer asking if we can do something, but how we can do it faster and easier. The race to answer that question has given us products and capabilities we couldn't have imagined a few years ago, but also sometimes leaves us wishing we'd waited just a few more months to make the purchase.
We're reached a similar stage in green building. Now that green is clearly here to stay, the question is shifting from how to build green, to how to build green better. USGBC is responding to this shift with the development of LEED "Version 3.0", which will harmonize and align the many versions of the LEED green building rating system (new construction, existing buildings, etc.) as well as incorporate recent advances in science and technology. Unlike a software company or a TV manufacturer, though, we're not treating LEED v3.0 as a discrete "event"; you won't wake up one morning to find that a new version of LEED has hit the street and made your version out of date. Instead, we're taking this opportunity to introduce a continuous improvement process into LEED: creating a more flexible and adaptive program that will allow us to quickly identify and incorporate new knowledge through our consensus processes, and thus respond seamlessly to the market's evolving needs. "LEED Version 3" is thus a working title—nomenclature around which to coalesce our development efforts—rather than a new product per se.
No doubt you've heard of LEED v3.0 before; USGBC and the green building community have been talking about the next iteration of LEED for several years. The conversation to date has focused primarily on scientific and technical changes to the rating system, such as basing credits on Lifecycle Assessment and introducing bioregional weighting. These ideas are integral to the future of LEED, but we've recognized that they represent only one of the areas we need to address. We're asking ourselves a number of questions about what it will take to build green better:
Performance: What technical and scientific innovations to both the content and structure of the LEED rating system will create better, greener, more sustainable buildings?
Transformation: How can we improve LEED’s applicability to more of the marketplace, with a focus on our mission of market transformation?
Customer Experience: How can we make LEED work better for the people and organizations who use it, always maintaining our technical integrity and rigor, while reducing costs?
To help us answer these questions, we've been reaching out to leaders, visionaries, and experts from throughout the building and environmental communities. We're also conducting a series of workshops through our local chapters to ensure that we hear from the full spectrum of the industry, and from every region of the country. (Contact your local chapter to learn more about opportunities to participate). Based on the feedback we hear, we'll be developing the scope and workplan for the development of 3.0, which we'll be publishing in initial form at Greenbuild 2006 in Denver.
Our goals for LEED are deeply rooted in our Guiding Principles, which will be integral to the ongoing development and improvement processes. There is an awesome wealth of information, ideas, and voices, including some which may try to distract us from our mission. But with these principles as both framework and filter, we know—and you know—that LEED will remain forever grounded in the essential values that have guided us since the beginning.

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