News Analysis

New Infrastructure for LEED

After several years of conversations about a rating system grounded in life-cycle assessment, with regional variations and smarter credits, the LEED® 3.0 development process was at risk of collapsing under the weight of expectations. In response, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) chose to begin the process by getting all these expectations out into the open. USGBC initiated “an exhaustive idea-gathering process, engaging all the different communities,” said director of communications Michelle Moore. Over 1,500 individual ideas and suggestions were collected, organized, and prioritized in the process, which was managed by Paladino & Company of Seattle, Washington.

Rather than seeking to develop a new version of the rating system, USGBC has chosen to create a new framework for managing LEED that would align and harmonize the rating systems currently in use. According to Moore, this approach will “allow the Council to more flexibly and reliably update LEED based on the best technical solutions.” The new framework is described as a “bookshelf” of credits that will be maintained individually and combined as needed to generate rating systems for various building types and markets. This approach, which is expected to be operational by late 2007, shifts the emphasis from the rating systems to the credits. The change should be transparent to users of LEED—the various rating systems will continue functioning as before—and over time the new framework will make it easier for USGBC to manage its growing portfolio of rating systems and to update and enhance LEED on a credit-by-credit basis.

Published December 5, 2006