LEED 2012 Revisited

With a fifth public comment period on the horizon, the USGBC’s Scot Horst explains the initial pushback against LEED 2012 and what led to its transformation into LEED v4.

By Penny Bonda, FASID, LEED AP


The two credits under attack by the ACC are voluntary—they encourage rather than require compliance—and need be applied to only 20 percent of the materials used in a building to earn LEED points. They represent a modest achievement by any definition, but remain important to all of us who have and will continue to work tirelessly to create healthy interiors.

The USGBC has survived attacks in the past from big money in the chemical, wood and paper industries, and has managed to keep their self-interests out of the LEED system thanks to the passion and perseverance of the people who actually use and implement LEED on a daily basis.

The organization has also started fighting back. In a July 12th entry on the Huffington Post, Fedrizzi described those who advance their narrow view of the world as “scoundrels of the worst sort… in their effort to protect a status quo that is good for them but not so much for the rest of us…” It’s a statement that many in the A&D community can agree with, but it remains to be seen if LEED practitioners will speak out and join the fight enmasse against these powerful industry groups.

Fortunately, most of the changes to the other credit categories have not been controversial. Many involve title changes, reorganization, updated reference standards, higher thresholds, guidance for international projects and metric conversations.

The USGBC has scheduled a fifth public comment period to run from October 2 to December 10, 2012, which will include the annual Greenbuild Conference and Expo. We don’t yet know what the new draft of LEED v4 will look like, but there will assuredly be much discussion about not only the proposed changes, but also the process. We do know that v4 will be beta-tested, LEED 2009 will remain available to projects for three years after the release of v4, and—perhaps most importantly—the USGBC will maintain the high standards, consensus process and transparency we have come to expect from them. Talk about lessons learned!


Penny Bonda, FASID, LEED AP ID+C works in the fields of environmental consulting and communications, and is a prominent writer and lecturer. She is the founding chair and a primary author of the LEED Commercial Interiors rating system. Her published works include Sustainability Matters, written with the General Services Administration, and Sustainable Commercial Interiors (Wiley). She is a founding partner of Ecoimpact Consulting, a collaborative offering sustainable strategies for better business.


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