Big changes in store for LEED as USGBC convenes largest Greenbuild ever

December 01, 2007 |

A record 22,835 AEC professionals and environmental activists—up from 13,300 in 2006—attended the U.S. Green Building Council’s Greenbuild Conference and Expo, at Chicago’s McCormick Place West November 7-9. The USGBC announced a complete overhaul of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design green building rating system, with the goal of creating (with minor exceptions) a single LEED system instead of individual ones for specific building types, such as schools. USGBC officials said the new LEED will take into account life cycle analysis and bio-regional weighting of credits.

Michelle Moore, the Washington, D.C.-based group’s VP for policy and public affairs, said that focusing LEED “as a tool to measure and verify CO2 emissions reduction from the built environment ranks at the top of the list.”

The USGBC announced it will be “harmonizing and aligning credits” across all LEED rating systems to make the system more adaptive and flexible. Moore said LEED will still allow additional credits to cover existing building types in the new system.

To meet these goals, the USGBC is reorganizing its committee structure. The market committee will identify market expansion opportunities. The technical committee will steer LEED’s development. The certification committee will ensure credits deliver on their intent across the rating system.

USGBC President Rick Fedrizzi

“The fact that we’re setting up new committees around LEED makes it a good time to get involved,” she said. “Anyone interested should sign up for the LEED corresponding committee through their local chapter.”


Other Greenbuild 2007 highlights:

• 8,000 people attended former President Bill Clinton’s keynote address on November 7 in which he announced that the Clinton Foundation and GE Real Estate have entered into an agreement to green all of the real estate company’s operations—$72 billion worth of assets and 385 million sf of property in 31 countries.

“Once we prove through economies of scale that this can be done, others will follow our lead,” he said.

Clinton also pledged to work with the USGBC to create a national carbon measurement standard and announced that the Clinton Climate Initiative will work with the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment on reducing emissions from member colleges and universities.

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• AEC software giant Autodesk, San Rafael, Calif., and the American Institute of Architects, Washington, D.C., released the results of their third annual Green Index, a survey of green building practices and motivations of nearly 350 practicing architects in the U.S. The survey found that 70% of architects say client demand is the leading driver of green building, primarily to reduce their operating costs.

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• At a Greenbuild forum, USGBC president/CEO S. Richard Fedrizzi asked why the AIA has not recognized the LEED standard. Fedrizzi also said that if the new ASHRAE Standard 189 is passed, the “certified” level of LEED might be phased out. The USGBC collaborated with ASHRAE and the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America on the proposed standard.

According to Moore, the USGBC was informed by letter just before Greenbuild that the AIA will be releasing an evaluation of LEED, Green Globes, and other green building rating systems in early 2008. In response, Fedrizzi told the Greenbuild forum, “We don’t need AIA to tell us it’s the only green rating system that’s recognized. We just don’t think it needs to be studied or picked apart any longer.”

Said Moore, “We are entering the early mainstream of the [green building] movement, and we would like to have a more collaborative relationship with AIA.”

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• A $1 million donation from United Technologies Corp. has enabled the USGBC to launch, a website devoted to providing global online access to green building education. The site will offer free and fee-based courses about green building technologies and innovations and practical training to prepare professionals to apply LEED principles to building design, construction, and operation.

• 'Pint-flush’ urinals and wireless controls are among the 2007 Top 10 Green Building Products, announced during the show by BuildingGreen Inc., publisher of the GreenSpec Directory and Environmental Building News.

The 2007 list includes Caroma USA’s Cube³ Ultra Urinal, which requires just one pint to flush; LRG LED downlight from Lighting Fixtures Inc., which achieves higher efficiency and color rendering index levels than compact fluorescent downlights; Collins Companies’ FreeForm FSC-certified particleboard with no added formaldehyde; 180 Walls wallcovering from Milliken, a highly permeable product made from 100% pre-consumer-recycled polyester; and Alpen Fiberglass windows from Alpen Energy Group, which are available with an R-20 center-of-glass insulating value.

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