The US Green Building Council introduced the latest version of LEED to the industry at the Greenbuild International Conference this past October. The LEEDv4 certification focuses on challenging the industry to evolve to higher standards and embrace a more holistic implementation of sustainability within construction. Up until now, LEED focused on detracting and minimizing a building’s negative footprint, however with the LEEDv4 that has changed drastically. From the new version’s perspective, a building has to not only be negatively affecting the environment, but positively contributing to their surrounding.
The most widely recognized change to the LEED system is the material transparency, requiring the implementation of LACs for building products. Life Cycle Analysis (LAC) is a technique to assess environmental impacts associated with all stages of a product’s life cycle. This means that there has to be a better understanding of the products being used in a building and where they have come from. LACs will be able to monitor impacts such as, global warming potential, depletion of O3, acidification of land and soil, water pollution related to phosphates, nitrogen, etc. and depletion of non-renewable resources.
All these changes are great when it comes to really making a difference in the world and in the way construction assesses sustainable efforts, however is the market ready for this expensive shift? The USGBC seems to think that the industry isn’t ready, since they pushed back the implementation date from June 2015 to October 2016. By slowing down the transition, they are trying to bring more of the building industry along. This might just be what the industry needed. The USGBC can push the effort all they like, however if it leaves the market behind it won’t make much of an impact in the long run.