A LEED Plaque at Chatham Park NC

Photo Credit: Chatham Park NC

The bulk of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) version 4 projects registered with the Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI) on or after March 1 will be subjected to stricter energy performance criteria.

In 2023, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) proposed new credit language and elevated point thresholds regarding energy performance and related greenhouse gas emissions. The changes, which USGBC members recently voted to adopt a year before LEED’s next iteration rolls out, are intended to “reflect current expectations of market leadership,” USGBC’s announcement states.

“The buildings we build and operate today will have impacts that last for generations,” USGBC wrote. “This means that while looking ahead to LEED v5, the current versions of LEED must also move forward to address the climate crisis.”

What the Changes Mean

Updates impact the Minimum Energy Performance prerequisite and Optimize Energy Performance credit for LEED BD+C and ID+C projects as well as the Multifamily Midrise Minimum Energy Performance prerequisite and Annual Energy Use credit. Results from the LEED Homes Home Size Adjustment calculator will carry less weight under the adjusted credit thresholds.

Save for alternate compliance pathways, the referenced requirements and additional possible points are generally tied to a building’s energy use reduction compared to the ASHRAE 90.1-2010 baseline. However, projects registered on or after the March deadline will now need to drastically improve energy performance for an equivalent point value on the LEED scorecard.

USGBC states that this change is intended to further incentivize energy reduction measures, as the greenhouse gas emissions correlated with the project are now also weighed as a performance measure.

To smoothly comply with California’s 2022 Energy Code and help developers reduce construction costs, VCA Green has been engaged with projects through energy modeling as early as schematic design. Now that practice will also be crucial to ensure forthcoming LEED projects maximize their energy-related points.

Though additional compliance opportunities will remain for the prerequisites and credit points, we suggest talking to a VCA Green principal about the best option for your project.

Moe Fakih, Principal

Robyn Vettraino, Principal