Apr 10, 2019

U.S. Green Building Council Launches LEED v4.1

On April 2,  the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) announced that the new version of the LEED green building program – LEED v4.1 – is now available for cities, communities and homes. According to USGBS, LEED v4.1 certification recognizes leadership by emphasizing performance monitoring, fully integrated design, social equity and human health factors.

Green building standards and codes contain specific restrictions and indoor air quality requirements for paint, coatings, adhesives, and sealants. LEED is one of the most prominent green building standards, alongside the International Green Construction Code, also known as the International Code Council (IgCC). Although LEED is the most dominant rating system in the United States, there is growing competition among rating systems, heightened by an interest in environmentally-friendly building materials. The implementation of these standards by jurisdictions and individuals are driving down volatile organic compound (VOC) limits. There are further efforts toward mandatory emissions testing for interior products to improve indoor air quality and the restriction of chemicals used in building materials.

The updated LEED v4.1, builds on new methodologies for measuring building performance. This includes changes to the Material and Resources (MR) categories and the Indoor Environmental Quality (EQ) categories. The VOC Content standards for adhesives and sealants were updated to the most recent South Coast Air Quality Management District Rule 1168. Points for low-emitting materials are now awarded on a scale based on the number of product categories that meet the requirements. The emission evaluation requirement for Paints, Coatings, Adhesives, and Sealants has been reduced to 75% from 90%. There have also been weighting changes for how environmental product declarations are counted under the new v4.1.  These are a few of the changes made under the new rating system which will impact how member companies can maximize LEED credits to their products. The smaller green building standard WELL, has released WELL V2 the Association will continue to track the standard and comment when applicable. The intent of this update was to more align with LEED where possible.

For the residential market, LEED v4.1 combines the familiar and relevant aspects from four previously-existing LEED for homes rating systems (LEED for Low-rise homes, LEED for Midrise Homes, LEED for Core and Shell and LEED for New Construction) to deliver three rating systems – LEED v4.1 Residential: New Single-family homes, LEED v4.1 Residential: New Multifamily homes and LEED v4.1 New Multifamily homes core and shell. According the USGBC, the updated rating system is designed to make the decision to implement LEED easier for residential projects and revitalize the council's approach to the housing market.

For the LEED for Cities and LEED for Communities rating systems, LEED v4.1 expands on the earlier performance based approach to deliver a comprehensive framework to support plan, design, operation and performance management phases of both new and existing cities and communities. The rating systems align with all the UN Sustainable Development Goals and incorporate leadership standards and best practices from complementary systems, like the previously integrated STAR Community Rating System, as well as the PEERTRUEEDGE and SITES programs. According to USGBC, More than 90 cities and communities around the world, representing more than 45 million people, are LEED-certified based on several factors, including water efficiency, energy, greenhouse gas emissions, materials and resources, quality of life, innovation and regional priorities.