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LEED v4.1 O+M is All-In!

Are you in? The US Green Building Council (USGBC) wants you to be. The “All-in” campaign has just officially expanded to include the new and highly anticipated LEED v4.1 for Building Operations and Maintenance (O+M).

Full disclosure: As a member of the Energy and Atmosphere (EA) Technical Advisory Group, I was involved in reviewing LEED v4.1 modifications. In the past, LEED had set significant barriers to entry for existing buildings. For example, LEED O+M EA Prerequisite Minimum Energy Performance set a baseline ENERGY STAR score of 75, which restricted certification to the top 25% of efficient buildings. This limitation often caused building owners to abandon LEED before even getting started, thus eliminating a key incentive for improving underperforming buildings’ environmental impact. LEED 4.1 has fixed this problem. The restrictive prerequisite for energy performance has been replaced with a voluntary credit, encouraging building owners to benchmark energy use and screen capital improvements against energy impacts.

The newest version of LEED O+M also incorporates Arc, USGBC’s performance tracking platform. In Version 4.1, the energy score is calculated based on two energy metrics:

  1. LEED v4 ImageThe traditional ENERGY STAR metric of annual Source Energy Use Intensity (kBtu/sf);
  2. The Arc metric of Annual Greenhouse Gas Emissions Intensity (GHG/person).

While building owners and facility managers are familiar with ENERGY STAR, Portfolio Manager, and Source EUI, the Arc platform and the GHG metric will be new to many. With these changes, USGBC has acknowledged the importance of measuring, and not just modeling, the impact our buildings’ energy use has on the atmosphere.

The USGBC has also used LEED v4.1 to streamline the Energy & Atmosphere category, which now consists of only two prerequisites and two voluntary credits. The prerequisites, Energy Efficiency Best Management Practices and Fundamental Refrigerant Management, remain mostly unchanged for U.S. projects. The Enhanced Refrigerant Management credit was not updated, but the Demand Response credit is now called Grid Harmonization. This change is intended to bring attention to a building’s or community’s impact on the energy grid’s health, reliability, and efficiency. While the demand response options remain largely the same, USGBC has added examples of recommended and acceptable strategies for reducing demand or shifting loads. These include battery storage and other energy storage systems like chilled water, ice, phase change materials, and geothermal.

The energy metric conversation and the way we look at energy time of use will continue to evolve and I’d love to hear your thoughts on it!

Download a full summary of the changes in LEED v4.1 O+M here

Download the LEED v4.1 O+M rating system guidelines here


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By Paula Zimin, Director, Sustainable Building Services

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