LEED remains the world’s most widely used sustainability rating system. LEED version 4 (v4) is now the current version, and some owners view LEED certification as an important component of their corporate sustainability commitments. In some jurisdictions, LEED certification is the key to attaining zoning bonuses, so rating systems can have a permitting and financial importance as well.
As rating systems evolve and the performance bar raises, both the LEED and the A/E/C industry are at an inflection point with this newest version of LEED. Sellen is currently working on eight buildings pursuing LEED v4 and is gathering key information on the availability of compliant materials and potential impact on costs.
It’s fair to say that some designers, manufacturers and suppliers are finding LEED v4 to be a challenge, as some credits have a limited number of compliant products or documentation. In response, the United States Green Building Council has launched a pilot version 4.1 (v4.1) rating system that brings many welcome changes. In some cases, v4.1 offers feasible options to meet rigorous material transparency and low-emitting materials requirements. We are investigating the newly published v4.1 and the potential benefits for our current v4 projects.
Additionally, other sustainable certifications, such as WELL or Zero Carbon, are gaining attention in the industry, reflecting an interest of viewing sustainability through the lens of health or greenhouse gas reduction. While early rating systems — including LEED — covered many topics, they had a heavy focus on operational energy performance. Newer systems are focusing more on health and well-being, as well as carbon emissions.