LEED is now a Worldwide Phenomenon

LEED Gold Logo. Image Credit: US Green Building Council.

From a rating system that was initially designed twelve years ago to improve energy efficiency and encourage the use of recycled materials ten years ago, the LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design system has certainly come along way. Set to release its fourth version dubbed LEED V4, LEED has grown into a household name in green construction with around 14,044 certified commercial projects and 2 billion square feet of green space in 140 countries. The number is about to more than double with 34,601 more building projects underway.

The initiative has been followed by other countries and spurred the introduction of other rating systems such as Malaysia’s Green Building Index and China’s three-star-rating system. For an industrial sector that was virtually nonexistent years ago, the green building sector is about to become a $280 billion global industry.

With its fourth version, LEED will update its current rating system from its four-level system (from certified to platinum) into an altogether new system. LEED is set to release the proposed changes soon, and will be allowing proposed changes that member companies are free to comment on. The period for public comment will be until December 10, 2012.

Information previously released on the proposed changes has been the subject of debates by companies for or against them. The new changes include increased technical rigor for energy performance and the introduction of new categories aimed at integrated design, indoor air quality, life cycle analysis of materials, and so forth.

LEED spokeswoman Ashley Katz said, “In order for LEED to be relevant, it has to evolve. In 2000, people didn’t know what low VOC (volatile organic compounds) paint was. Now it’s what everyone uses.”

True enough, LEED was originally concerned with energy efficiency but the rise of green buildings has also factored in the importance of its effects among employees, who noted improved concentration and productivity. Hospitals and universities have also been moving towards LEED standards, with the University of California (100 LEED-certified facilities) and Harvard (75 LEED-certified facilities) taking the lead on the university front.

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