Efficiency takes LEED in streamlined update

Getting an existing or new structure in the North Bay certified under a Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design, or LEED, rating system will be both somewhat easier to tackle but more stringent on efficient use of resources under a new version of the standards set for launch next month.

LEED version 4 (usgbc.org/leed/v4), originally called LEED 2012 when it was targeted for release a year ago, mainly encourages more collaboration between design and construction teams from beginning to end of a project, verified less use of energy and water, and more attention to the "life cycle" -- recycled content and ability to be recycled -- not only of products used but also the building itself.

Version 4 was approved by 86 percent of about 1,200 design and real estate industry consultants in June. The new version is set to be unveiled at the Greenbuild International Expo and Conference on Nov. 20--22 in Philadelphia.

Projects and buildings can still be registered under version 2009 of the nine LEED rating systems through May 2015. Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Green Building Council released the first version of the LEED systems in 2000.

"Overall, we support and are very glad to see the changes made to LEED version 4," said Aniruddha Deodhar, head of Autodesk's Sustainable Buildings Solutions program. Autodesk, a San Rafael-based maker of some of the most widely used construction and manufacturing design software worldwide, has been a top-level collaborator with the U.S. Green Building Council on LEED standards and documentation. "LEED drives a large portion of our customers' revenue and, hence, is important to us."Streamlined, 'integrated' process

One of the welcome upgrades in version 4 is a "drastic reduction" in the number of forms required in LEED documentation, a process that has become "more streamlined, flexible, user-friendly," according to Mr. Deodhar. The number of forms has been reduced from 1,000 in version 2009 to 175 in the recent revision.

In addition to reducing labor-intensive paperwork in the certification process, the newest iteration of the rating systems tries to encourage more collaboration early in the project.

Toward that goal, one of the new credits in version 4 is for "integrative process." The goal, according to the council, is to encourage design and construction firms to work together, making the process more cost-effective by incorporating elements early into the project.

Of the two points available for the integrative process credit, options include forming an "integrated project team" of architects, designers and engineers who meet regularly and are involved in many project stages, holding the equivalent of a full-day design charrette during at the concept stage or conducting at least eight hours of training for specialty contractor crews on methods and materials for reaching LEED goals.Higher-efficiency goals

Performance requirements in version 4 are more aggressive than before, particularly in new requirements for water and energy metering and higher standards for existing buildings as well as for heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems, according to Mr. Deodhar.

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