At stake is the continued use of the LEED program by the United States General Services Administration (GSA). USGBC has used LEED to encourage the building industry to raise the environmental bar. But this time, they may have aimed too high. Many material providers are pushing back against the most recent proposed changes, and taking their complaints to Washington, DC.
Sources of Conflict
The first version of LEED was developed around 2000 through an open, consensus-based process led by its committees. The process continues to be utilized today.
LEED v4 has raised hackles because of some of the changes being proposed—in three main. First, there are new credit categories--as well as new prerequisites for products that qualify for inclusion in LEED projects. Second, revised point distribution is intended to tie the rating more closely to the priorities of the USGBC community. Third, and probably most contentious, is a change to LEED’s technical content. Some of the changes would include increased stringency, changing the standards upon which some credits are based, and potential automatic adoption of the changes to standards outside of LEED--which may or may not be on a similar update cycle to LEED.
Putting Version 4 on Hold
As of today, LEEDv4 (formerly LEED 2012) has undergone four public comment periods. The original intent was to ballot this version in June 2012. Per USGBC, as a result of numerous public comments, the balloting has been delayed until June 2013. The official position is that stakeholders in the community need more time to absorb the changes as well as prepare for any impacts to their current business models. In the interim, there will be a fifth public comment period from October 2nd until November 10th.
In order for new versions of LEED to pass, a two thirds approval of the voting membership is required. When USGBC was in its beginning stages, membership was heavily weighted within the professional membership category which included architects, engineers and designers. Recently, it appears that membership group has been surpassed by contractors and builders. Product manufacturers are currently the third largest segment behind professional firms.