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January 15, 2015

 

Kristin Smith

 

When the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) announced an extension of the 2009 version of its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system in November 2014, I am sure it came as welcome news for many contractors and recyclers.

The extension allows projects to register for certification using the 2009 version of the green building certification system until October 31, 2016 — more than a year after it was originally supposed to be phased out for the updated version of the certification known as LEED v4.

While proponents of LEED v4 tout its emphasis on the life cycle of building products, to many in the recycling and demolition industry, it is viewed as impractical. It certainly has implications for demolition contractors if more sorting of materials is required on site and for the C&D recycling facility that counted alternative daily cover toward its diversion rate.

The Turner Constructions of the world have accepted LEED v4 as a certification its clients will demand. Its Chief Sustainability Officer Michael Deane told Construction & Demolition Recycling (C&DR) magazine in the March/April 2014 cover story, “Standard protocol,” that his “single biggest goal for 2014 is to educate our people on how to do a v4 project and how it is different from what we’ve been doing.”

Whether C&D recyclers and demolition contractors like it or not, sooner or later, a job will come along that will use LEED v4, and it will be up to the industry to be ready. Certainly some temporary relief has been given with the extension of LEED 2009, but in less than two years that too will run out unless something happens between now and then to change LEED v4, which is not likely.

The delay though, does seem to show that the USGBC is listening to people’s concerns, but as Rick Fedrizzi, USGBC CEO and founding chair, points out, “LEED v4 wasn’t designed to be easy. It is the next generation of green building, and we are confident the market will meet us there as they have in years past.”

Fedrizzi may be right, but Deane also brings up an important concern in the C&DR article. “USGBC is always threading the needle between moving the market and losing the market,” he says. “What I am concerned about is that our clients and even our project teams may look at the requirements and decide not to do them because they will think they are too hard.”

We will just have to wait and see how this plays out, but in the meantime, I would suggest preparing yourself and your company for LEED v4.