Party Walls

Transitioning to LEEDv4

LEED v4 transition

Written by Anna Speed, SWA Sustainability Consultant

After 61% of those surveyed at Greenbuild 2014 replied that that they were not prepared, or were unsure if they were prepared for the inception of LEED® version 4 (v4), the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) announced that it would allow LEED users to register projects under the LEED version 3 (v3) rating system until October 31, 2016. The original date for LEEDv3 registration to close was June 27, 2015. The USGBC made their decision to extend the deadline based on their understanding that LEED users and members needed additional time to prepare for v4, which is more stringent and requires greater cooperation from manufacturers and suppliers.

As a result of the extended deadline, the USGBC offers projects the ability to pursue LEEDv4 credits while registered under the LEEDv3 rating system. One credit for example is Materials and Resources Pilot Alternative Compliance Path 84 where project teams can pursue the entire LEEDv4 Materials and Resources (MR) Category in place of the MR credits from LEEDv3. This includes Storage and Collection of Recyclables, Construction and Demolition Waste Management Planning, Building Life-Cycle Impact Reduction, Building Product Disclosure and Optimization (Environmental Product Declarations, Sourcing of Raw Materials and Material Ingredients), and Construction and Demolition Waste Management. The intent of the credit is to reduce environmental impact through building product and material selection, promote transparency, and encourage market transformation in the field of materials and material ingredients – one of the most significant challenges LEED faces today.


But how can the market transform if nothing and no one is forcing it to? How is LEEDv4 going to lead the way if it doesn’t demand change? My thought is, if we are not required to register our projects under the LEEDv4 rating system, then we should take the initiative and encourage LEEDv3 projects to pursue LEEDv4 credits. It will not only help familiarize us with LEEDv4, but it will speed up the market transformation we so desire! Additionally, it makes sense to pursue LEEDv4 credits because they have evolved and are better versions of v3 credits.

For example in LEEDv3, Indoor Environmental Quality credit 4.4 – Low-Emitting Materials, Composite Wood and Agrifiber can be difficult to achieve for some projects because all composite wood and agrifiber installed on the project must be free of added urea formaldehyde resins. Despite its stringent requirements to meet the formaldehyde requirements for ultra-low-emitting formaldehyde (ULEF) resins or no added formaldehyde resins, the California Air Resources Board’s Airborne Toxic Control Measure (CARB ATCM) standard is not recognized in LEEDv3. However in LEEDv4, Option 2 of the LEEDv4 Low-Emitting Materials credit recognizes the CARB ATCM standard and can be pursued by version 3 projects. This is a prime example of LEED recognizing issues with v3 and improving them in v4.

I believe it is in our best interest as LEED users and as consumers to do our research and determine which LEEDv4 credits are feasible for our LEEDv3 projects and then go out and tackle them! In addition to MRpc84 and Option 2 of the Low-Emitting Materials v4 credit, there are countless other LEEDv4 credits that LEEDv3 projects can pursue within the LEED BD+C, LEED ID+C and LEED O+M rating systems. Click here for more information regarding LEEDv4 and Pilot Credits.

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