By Rob Ziegelmeier

The USGBC issued Version 3 of LEED. Here are the important changes for woodworkers.

On April 27, 2009 the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) launched its new LEED v3. The following rating systems were revised: New Construction, Core & Shell, Commercial Interiors, Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance, and Schools. LEED for Home has not changed. LEED for Retail, which is in pilot, and LEED for Healthcare, which is under development, will be aligned with LEED 2009 at a later date.

According to the USGBC Web site: “LEED v3 builds on the fundamental structure and familiarity of the existing rating system, but provides a new structure for making sure the rating system incorporates new technology and addresses the most urgent priorities, like energy use and CO2 emissions.”

From a woodworker’s standpoint, the update has little effect because the areas where we can help a project earn points for the most part have not changed. What has changed is that the total number of points that can be earned is now in alignment on all of the rating systems changed by version 3.

New point levels
In LEED v3, a project can earn up to 100 base points and 10 potential points — six for “Innovation in Design” and 4 for “Regional Priorities” — for a total of 110 potential points. There also was a realignment of the points required to reach the individual certification levels. They are as follows:

• Certified, 40-49 points
• Silver, 50-59 points
• Gold, 60-79 points
• Platinum, 80 points and above

With there now being more total potential points, individual points are of somewhat less value to the overall project. This can be a double-edged sword — the certified wood credit may not be as important to the certification of the project, but then the demand for FSC wood products may not be as great.

If you are currently working on a LEED project, you need to find out if it is being upgraded to version 3 or will remain at the previous version. Projects that were registered prior to April 27, 2009 have the option to upgrade to version 3 or not.

Rob Ziegelmeier has been involved in the architectural woodworking community since 1977, including serving as AWI president in 1996-97 and as chairman of its LEED Task Force from 2003-07. Currently he is a sales representative with Algoma Hardwoods, Algoma, WI, and the newly appointed Sustainability Resources Representative for AWI.

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