LEED v4.1 Certification Updates To Reflect Pandemic Challenges

Posted On: 
May 25, 2020

The USGBC has announced it will update LEED v4.1 to address the challenges posed by the pandemic crisis. USGBC has stated that COVID-19 has changed the landscape forever and it will now help businesses and governments prepare to recalibrate and recover from this vulnerable moment. The USGBC will promote the concept of healthy buildings and a healthy workforce.

“By helping everyone understand the role a LEED-certified building can have in creating healthy spaces, we can help rebuild public trust, stimulate the economy and ultimately bring about a healthier standard of living for all,” says Mahesh Ramanujam, president and CEO of USGBC.

LEED v4.1 certification strategies will be updated to reflect indoor environmental quality, cleaning, occupant comfort, operations, better materials and risk management. The organization is implementing emergency guidance and upgrades to the rating system.

LEED v4.1 Updates

  • LEED v4.1 pilot credits that promote social distancing, infection monitoring, nontoxic surface cleaning, and air quality.
  • Regional CEO Advisory Councils will be formed to support the USGBC’s mission and advise construction industries on how they can prioritize sustainability in a post-pandemic world.
  • USGBC Equity Program will be implemented quicker to address the social, health and economic disparities within communities. Social equity pilot credits have been launched in the past to meet these challenges.
  • Adapted Review Process will include GBCI integrating lessons learned from the pandemic crisis to amend its LEED review process. GBCI will ensure projects that are currently undergoing LEED certification can and make their spaces healthier due to this crisis.
  • Guidance Reports will be published by USGBC to help project teams reenter their spaces.

LEED v4.1 Delays

Will the official launch of LEED v4.1 be delayed due to the pandemic crisis and changes being made to the ratings system? How will these changes affect building product manufacturers and project teams? Currently, the USGBC has not provided an update on any delays and its uncertain whether LEED v4.1 will be launched in 2020 or delayed until 2021. What we do know is that project teams are using many LEED v4.1 credits instead of the older LEED v4 versions.

What opportunities exist for product manufacturers for these new pilot credits? Non-toxic surface cleaning and infection monitoring have been mentioned so hopefully manufacturers can help in this regard. Will any of the pilot credits become fully integrated into LEED v4.1? A significant shift would be if the USGBC changed any of the LEED v4.1 prerequisites to reflect the pandemic crisis challenges.

LEED v4.1 In A Post-Pandemic World

In addition, USGBC is laying out several actions to implement due to the pandemic crisis. These actions are intended to increase their environmental, economic and health benefits. Also, the actions are meant to stimulate the economy and make a healthier standard of living for all. These actions include:

  • LEED v4.1 Regional Working Groups will be launched to provide recommendations to the LEED Steering Committee and Technical Advisory Groups. The groups will be global in scale and involved multiple countries.
  • Human Experience Certificate. Arc will use the Human Experience performance certificate to deliver a workplace reentry or healthy space report or certificate for spaces to monitor and improve their occupant satisfaction, comfort and confidence.
  • Healthier Building Materials will be promoted by USGBC to improve their occupant health, wellness and confidence. Health Product Declarations (HPDs) will no doubt be part of this process.
  • Advocacy and Research will be focused policies, guidance and incentives to better understand the broader trends and opportunities.

 How these changes will affect building product manufacturers is to be seen. We hope that the new pilot credits and other revisions for LEED v4.1 can open more specification and collaboration opportunities for manufacturers during this economic crisis.

For more information or to discuss the topic of this blog, please contact Brad Blank