Is LEEDv4 A Bug Looking for a Windshield?

USGBC says that LEEDv4 "is bolder, more specialized and designed for an improved user experience." But is this true? One measure of USGBC's penchant for continuing to double down on lousy bets is the increase in prerequisites (things you gotta do no matter what) from seven in LEED 2009 (the current version) to between 11 and 14 in the LEEDv4, depending on the specific rating system. This has to add cost and complexity, no matter what.

One consultant we interviewed, based in California, who has more than 15 years' experience certifying LEED projects, predicted, "Once USGBC completely converts over to LEEDv4, it's going to die."

One measure of LEEDv4's lack of popularity is uptake: since it was introduced and made available in late 2013, over the first 24 months (to the end of 2015), fewer than 6% of new LEED projects registered under LEEDv4 and less than two dozen were certified, as shown in the figure below. (And yes, we counted them!)

LEEDv4 accounted for fewer than 6% of all new LEED  project registrations during its first 24 months on the market, indicating that it provides few benefits compared with the current LEED 2009 standard.

LEEDv4 accounted for fewer than 6% of all new LEED  project registrations during its first 24 months on the market, indicating that it provides few benefits compared with the current LEED 2009 standard.

In my view, LEEDv4's added prerequisites are likely to squelch innovation and add $25,000 to $50,000 to the cost of every project, an unnecessary tax on an already costly system. One likely side-effect: for the balance of 2016, LEED 2009 project registrations are likely to grow more than normal, as project teams rush to register their upcoming projects under the old standard. Then, they will have until 2021 to actually certify the project. Think of a "leadership" standard, which LEED purports to be, that is still certifying projects in 2021, based on a standard that was developed in 2007 and 2008. How many of us are still using the old "flip phones" from 2006?

With its higher costs, more stringent requirements, and no change to the certification delivery model, it's hard to escape the conclusion that LEEDv4 is a bug looking for a windshield!