USGBC
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USGBC launches draft LEED v5 for Operations and Maintenance

Oct. 3, 2023
New rating system focuses on decarbonizing existing buildings and addresses equity, health, ecosystems, and resilience.

The next iteration of the LEED rating system is now available as a draft, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) announced recently at the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo in Washington, D.C. The LEED v5 Operations and Maintenance (O+M) rating system for existing buildings marks a milestone in achieving a low-carbon future and addresses critical imperatives such as equity, health, ecosystems, and resilience.

White House National Climate Advisor Ali Zaidi announced a plan at Greenbuild to create a new national definition of zero-emissions building in conjunction with the release of the draft. LEED v5 will align with this definition, including requirements for LEED Zero Carbon- and Platinum-level projects that specify low to no operational GHG emissions to help the industry combine impactful strategies. The move aims to empower and engage the market towards zero-emission buildings and will be referenced in federal programs and state and local policies.

While the launch of LEED v5 begins with existing buildings, LEED v5 for Building Design and Construction (BD+C) will roll out in 2024. LEED v5 will also work to adopt minimum requirements on embodied carbon, moving closer toward net zero buildings.

“Achieving the goals outlined in the Paris Climate Agreement and fulfilling the corresponding pledges made by organizations and governments demands bold, large-scale initiatives,” said Peter Templeton, president and CEO of USGBC in a press release. “The launch of LEED v5 underscores our unwavering commitment to our mission of fostering sustainable building practices that embrace principles of equity, health, biodiversity, and resilience. Requirements within LEED v5, coupled with the federal government's efforts to establish the new national definition of zero-emissions building, represent a pivotal moment in the built environment’s path toward decarbonization. This alignment will reduce market friction and enable stakeholders to work together toward a common goal. Collaboration between government and industry is imperative to confront today's challenges and shape a future that will benefit generations to come.”

The LEED v5 O+M draft is designed to deliver an understandable, actionable, and transformational rating system with a clear roadmap for progressive actions that facilitate LEED certification. The draft offers industry benchmarking and scoring to reward performance while maintaining a measured data-driven approach to certification. This will assist LEED users in anticipating and preparing for several years of building operations, encompassing legislative mandates, impending climate risks, and expected industry trends.

Here's what's new in LEED v5:

Carbon

  • LEED v5 addresses all significant sources of carbon emissions in buildings.
  • LEED v5 provides clear steps for delivering ultra-low greenhouse gas emissions buildings.
  • LEED v5 rewards existing buildings for leadership and planning to hit future decarbonization targets for ultra-low carbon emissions buildings.
  • LEED v5 will enhance the carbon literacy of the industry and incentivize existing buildings to work toward ultra-low carbon and zero-emission plans.

Health

  • LEED v5 includes a credit for continual assessment and verification of measurable indoor air quality, including indicators for infection risk management.
  • LEED v5 focuses on equity within cleaning operations and protections for cleaning personnel.

Resilience

  • LEED v5 recognizes that adaptation is critical and rewards operational preparedness for extreme events.
  • LEED v5 allows projects to understand who is in the building and meet occupant needs with a health-centric approach, including identifying health resilience goals.

Equity

  • LEED v5 asks teams to understand and address the social impact of a project.
  • LEED v5 promotes equity, access, and economic empowerment through on-site renewable energy projects, ownership transfer, and energy rights for underserved and frontline communities.

As part of the launch, a beta version of the LEED v5 O+M rating system will open with a select group of project teams across a diverse range of projects. The projects will provide critical feedback that will play a crucial role in refining the language and functionality of the system. The beta phase will commence in the fourth quarter of 2023. Projects interested in participating in the beta will find an expression of interest form on USGBC's website, along with more information about LEED v5.

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