U.S. Green Building Council Revises its LEED Rating System

November 26, 2008

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) will introduce a new version of its LEED green building certification program in 2009. The USGBC announced on November 18 that the new version, called LEED 2009, has been approved via a ballot of USGBC members. LEED stands for "Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design," and the new rating system reflects that ideal, giving more weight to factors that influence energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions. The new rating system will also award extra points for buildings that address environmental priorities where they are located; for instance, a building in an arid zone might earn extra points for achieving an extremely low water use. The USGBC has also released its LEED for Neighborhood Development and LEED for Retail rating systems for public comment. Comments for the retail rating system are due on November 27, and comments for the neighborhood development rating system are due on January 5, 2009. See the USGBC press releases on LEED 2009 (PDF 25 KB), LEED for Neighborhood Development (PDF 24 KB), and LEED for Retail (PDF 24 KB). Download Adobe Reader.

The USGBC made the announcements at its Greenbuild International Conference and Expo, which is held annually. The USGBC also presented its 2008 Leadership Awards at the conference, bestowing its President's Award on Alexander Karsner, the former assistant secretary for DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, for his efforts to advance energy efficiency and renewable energy during his tenure. The USGBC also made the Greenbuild Conference a carbon-neutral event through a groundbreaking new effort: the Green Communities Offset Fund, established by Enterprise Community Partners, is provided funds for installing energy efficiency and renewable energy features at up to 15 affordable housing developments. The developments are all participating in Enterprise's Green Communities Initiative, a five-year, $555 million effort to build more than 8,500 healthy and efficient homes for people that earn low incomes. See the USGBC press releases on the 2008 Leadership Awards (PDF 30 KB) and the Green Communities Offset Fund (PDF 31 KB), and see also the Green Communities Offset Fund Web page on the Green Communities Initiative Web site.

Another annual feature of the Greenbuild Conference is the announcement of the Top-10 Green Building Products by BuildingGreen, LLC. This year, the publishing company has listed a number of green building materials, paints, finishes, and even rainwater storage tanks, but it has also named three energy-related products. The SunCache is an inexpensive solar water heater for warm climates that was developed with DOE's help. It works best for people that take their hot showers in the afternoon or early evening, as is common practice in Hawaii. Another top-ten entry is "The Matrix," an integrated appliance from NCI, Inc. that combines a gas-fired condensing boiler and furnace, a condensing on-demand water heater, and a heat-recovery ventilator into a single unit, reducing natural gas consumption by 30% relative to conventional heating and hot water systems. And to keep track of the energy you save, the Agilewaves Resource Monitor provides residential and commercial building owners with real-time data on their use of electricity, natural gas, and water. The Web-based system can also monitor the output from solar energy systems and can track temperature, humidity, carbon emissions, and other data. See the BuildingGreen press release and list of the 2008 Top-10 Green Building Products.