The U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED green building certification has come a long way in more than a decade. Once criticized for lacking in mandatory energy efficiency prerequisites, the latest iteration, version 4, takes energy management one step further.

Greentech Media spoke to Brendan Owens, vice president of LEED technical development, about five updates in LEED v4 that energy geeks will want to know about.

Building level energy metering prerequisite

The new prerequisite calls for each project to measure whole building energy use, and then share that data with USGBC. Metering in and of itself does not provide energy savings, but basic tools that crunch data can provide ongoing visibility that building managers and owners can employ to manage energy use.

“All of these requirements are about ensuring that LEED buildings are operating as well as they are capable of, and that they stay optimized and efficient over the long term,” said Owens.

The best part of the new prerequisite? These days there are plenty of low- and no-cost energy monitoring services to help building owners ensure that buildings are constantly optimized.  


Water use prerequisite

Two new prerequisites, for building-level water metering and outdoor water use reduction, will help projects not only get a grip on water consumption, but also save energy over the long term. The water use reduction must hit 30 percent and the water metering data must be shared with USGBC for five years.


Demand response credit

After years of piloting, demand response has graduated to the level of base credit. In its pilot iteration, demand response could be semi- or fully automated as long as it met a 10 percent load-shed requirement. The new credit requires that the demand response system must be capable of being fully automated, but can be operated in a semi-automated way, said Owens.

The new credit also adds a requirement that the demand response process is included in the commissioning scope of a LEED project. The requirement is part of a larger shift in LEED v4 to a focus on integrative design for water and energy use. Buildings that aren’t located in a utility territory with a demand response program can comply with the requirement to have the systems in place and still receive one out of two points.

Planning for demand response during commissioning could possibly mean adding energy storage along with systems that can respond to automated demand response signals, said Mark MacCracken, CEO of energy storage company CALMAC and former USGBC chair.

“The new demand response credit addresses peak electrical load reductions with two methods, namely, temporary and permanent," said MacCracken. "Permanent methods, like thermal energy storage, make these demand reductions invisible to the occupants by shifting electrical usages permanently to off-peak hours.”


Renewable energy production credit

The renamed credit increases the number of points available for renewable energy, said Owens. Projects can also now claim credit for community renewable energy systems as long as they have a ten-year lease for the energy system and the resource is within the same utility service area as the building.


Advanced energy metering prerequisite

The new prerequisite goes one step further than basic building-level data and requires a permanent metering system that records intervals of one hour or less, and the meter must transmit that data to a remote location.