Over the past few years, the US Green Building Council (USGBC) has worked to improve the requirements and procedures associated with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, more commonly known as LEED. This next version of the program has been dubbed LEED v4. As the next evolution to the popular LEED rating system, LEED v4 involves several significant changes and updates when compared to the previous LEED 2009 rating system.

One of the biggest focuses of LEED v4 is on building performance and monitoring actual building data to verify that savings are taking place.  Now, building energy and water data must be metered and reported to the US Green Building Council for a period of five years. Holistic changes, such as the acknowledgement of 21 varying market sectors within the certification program, have also been made in order to better address the wide variety of building types to which users apply LEED.

Within LEED v4’s Energy and Atmosphere credit category, ASHRAE 90.1-2010 is now the referenced energy standard.  This category contains one of the credits with the largest point values: the Optimize Energy and Performance credit. This credit compares the energy cost savings of the proposed HVAC system versus the baseline HVAC system as specified within ASHRAE 90.1-2010.

Additionally, a new credit regarding demand response systems has been added within the Energy and Atmosphere credit category. Building demand response systems must be capable of a fully automatic implementation process in which the building automation system directly receives a demand response implementation signal from the utility provider and the building’s demand response program is initiated automatically, without user interaction.

In any case, buildings can currently be submitted under LEED 2009 or LEED v4, but the proper version to utilize should be evaluated and agreed upon by all team members before the project is registered.  With all of the new requirements and updates involved in LEED v4, each team member needs to be aware of the new means and methods that they will be evaluated on for project certification. Overall, this LEED update is a holistic change to the rating system with new and revised credits across each of the evaluation categories and will take a committed project team to successfully utilize while it is still in its infancy.

To learn more about both ASHRAE 90.1 and LEED, click here


  • Justin Herzing

    Design Engineer

    As a design engineer for Southland Industries, Justin Herzing is responsible for the strategic design of buildings’ HVAC systems and has been involved in the HVAC system commissioning and functional performance testing phases for several projects.  Justin has been invited to speak at both Regional and National events for DBIA regarding recent updates to both ASHRAE 90.1 and the LEED rating system.

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