Are you ready for LEED v4?

Revisions to LEED required engineers to learn the new v4 rating system.
By John Yoon, PE, LEED AP ID+C; McGuire Engineers, Chicago August 16, 2017

Figure 4: Automatic lighting control is required by ASHRAE 90.1-2010. For certain space types, time-of-day control is acceptable way to comply with this requirement. This is of a stand-alone dimming system that is also capable of automatic time-of-day control. Courtesy: McGuire Engineers Inc.Oct. 31, 2016, was an important date for those who were working on a LEED project late last year because it was the deadline for registering a project under the old LEED 2009 rating system. While the registration deadline was extended more than a year beyond the original date of June 27, 2015, many were still left scrambling in an attempt to get their projects submitted prior to the deadline.

With a new rating system, there is always a period of uncertainty and apprehension. When the LEED v4 pilot program went "live" in 2013, U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) expended a considerable amount of resources on education to support the adoption of the LEED v4 rating system. Nevertheless, a survey of participants at the 2014 Greenbuild convention indicated that 61% of respondents were still "not ready" or "unsure" if they were ready to pursue LEED v4. Few were compelled to attempt certification under LEED v4 prior to the deadline. A search of the USGBC online project database only returned 2,320 LEED v4 projects versus an overall total of 57,159 LEED projects registered between Sept. 30, 2013, and May 1, 2017.

LEED has a reputation for driving innovation and efficiency in green building design. However, by the time the deadline came for the new rating system, LEED 2009 had been in effect for more than 7 years. What was once innovative had become the de facto industry standard. As with any progressive standard in effect for that long without significant change, it had the potential to fall into irrelevancy without major updates to keep pace with evolution of the green building industry that it originally helped define. While the revisions incorporated into LEED v4 helps maintain the standard’s position at the forefront of the green building movement, the associated design practices now have to evolve as well.


John Yoon is a lead electrical engineer at McGuire Engineers Inc. and is a member of the Consulting-Specifying Engineer editorial advisory board.

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