The first letter in the acronym LEED stands for Leadership, and more fully, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. While California Code and CALGreen continue to move in the direction of incorporating sustainability into building design and construction, LEED and other third-party green building rating systems are focused on charting the future of next level sustainable building.

In November of 2019, just before we all hunkered down in the alternate reality of quarantine and mask mandates, USGBC and the LEED Steering Committee launched LEED Positive, “a vision statement and LEED development roadmap that will lay the foundation for a future of LEED that is regenerative” in order to kick start conversations on the Future of LEED and LEED v5.

This initiative was launched at GreenBuild 2019 against the backdrop of the conference’s theme: “‘A New Living Standard,” exploring how we can broaden the conversation around green buildings to help connect the dots between people and the places where they live, work, learn and play.” The LEED Positive vision is about looking ahead to the year 2050, to a future of building that is regenerative, and then backcasting the next step in the approximate 5-year update cycle of LEED.

Four key areas of LEED Positive and the Future of LEED are:

  1.  Focus on performance not just design
      • Provide real time and actionable building data for occupants and building managers, including utility consumption, air quality, and comparison with neighbors to influence occupant behavior change.
      • Enhanced commissioning and retro-commissioning to confirm all building systems stay in good working order and correct any deficient issues.
      • Enhanced building operations, training and recertification to ensure the building is being managed most efficiently.

2.  Sustainable Sites, Equity and Community Health and Wellbeing

      • Creating more positive neighborhood and community impact.
      • Equity and Social Impact including ESG (environment, social, governance) investment-ready criteria.
      • Using products that eliminate the use of red list chemicals that are harmful to worker and occupant health.
      • An emphasis on green affordable housing.
      • Expansion of adaptive reuse of existing sites and buildings.

3. Circular Materials Economy, Zero Waste and Decarbonization

      • More emphasis on life cycle assessments and product sourcing including embodied-carbon reduction, local and recycled materials, and cradle-to-cradle products that can be repurposed at the end of the life cycle.
      • Moving to net zero energy, net zero carbon buildings and beyond into buildings as energy generators and carbon sinks.

4. The regenerative future of green buildings

      • In order to move projects into a net positive future, it will take charting a visionary path of leadership, teamwork, learning and growth mindset.
      • Creating a long-range strategy, improving integrated design and integrated project delivery process, and incorporating ESG goals to create higher value and more resilient assets.
      • This broader vision includes expanding the way we think about impact to include a multi-capital approach that delivers high social, ecological, and economic value simultaneously.

The standards and demands on the performance of our built environment are only increasing over time. When we take the long view, we can excel past the minimums, gain a competitive advantage, and be part of the solutions for creating a better world that works for the benefit of all life.

The earlier these aspects are incorporated in your strategy and projects, the higher are the potential cost savings and impact. Avoid outdated products, change orders and costly late-stage revisions to plans and contracts: reach out to VCA Green early to support the whole lifecycle of your building project.

Get your LEED project started on the right foot. It’s never too soon to reach out to VCA Green. We engage from company strategy and ESG, through property search and entitlements, and to building, design and construction, to operations, commissioning, and re-certification. For more information, contact Moe Fakih below.


Contributing Writer: Jay Corrales, Project Manager

Moe Fakih, Principal

VCA Green