ATLANTA — Issues like water scarcity, air quality and climate change pose daunting challenges through 2050, which is why the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is launching a new strategy to help roofing contractors and others become builders of environmental solutions.

At the USGBC’s annual Greenbuild International Conference and Expo, held Nov. 20-22 in Atlanta, Ga., the council announced LEED Positive, a focused effort and strategy to strengthen green practices in the construction industry.

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is the most widely used green building program in the construction industry. Since it first launched 20 years ago, LEED has helped change building practices around the globe to maximize health and productivity while reducing waste and environmental impacts. Today, LEED is engaged in more than 10,000 projects and has affected everything from energy, water, and waste practices to mainstreaming cool roofs and low-VOC products.

To build upon these successes, the USGBC created LEED Positive to transition from strategies that reduce the harm done by buildings to strategies that cause no harm and transform buildings into structures for environmental restoration and repair.

“We must do all we can to leverage our tools and resources to scale up reductions in carbon emissions associated with buildings, communities and cities,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, president and CEO, USGBC.

LEED measures a building on categories like materials and resources, sustainable sites, and innovation and design process. If these criteria are met, a building becomes LEED certified. Green buildings lead not only to reduced operation costs, but tax incentives and construction grants.

With LEED Positive, the USGBC will support category level performance certificates through its Arc platform to provide existing buildings with a pathway to LEED certification.

LEED Positive is also composed of several parts that work together to guide the development of the LEED rating system, including:

  • Proposed LEED Positive targets for energy and carbon reduction that will require new construction to go further and push existing buildings with high energy usage to substantially increase their efficiency efforts.
  • Define LEED Positive targets for other LEED credit categories that make up the holistic LEED rating system.
  • Continue investment in LEED v4.1 to accelerate the implementation and adoption of LEED for both new and existing buildings.

“Thanks to LEED v4.1, we are seeing increased interest from existing buildings in LEED certification. This is crucial because existing buildings represent our largest market segment, providing category level performance certificates is an important catalyst in further accelerating the transformation of our existing buildings,” said Melissa Baker, senior vice president of LEED Technical Core at USGBC.

By reporting performance data and obtaining a performance score, a project will now be able to earn a category performance certificate in each of the five performance categories tracked in Arc. Once a project achieves higher performance scores across all categories, they will be able to pursue LEED certification.

At Greenbuild 2018, the USGBC announced the Living Standard campaign, which will play a role in communicating the vision of LEED Positive and the impact LEED has on communities. While people associate green buildings with energy efficiency and cost savings, they do not link them to the impact on health and wellness. The Living Standard campaign aims to emphasize this aspect of green building practices.

“LEED must evolve qualitatively and quantitatively,” said Ramanujam. “Qualitatively, it must transition from strategies that reduce the harm done by buildings to strategies that cause no harm and are regenerative by design, ensuring our buildings are actually giving back more than they take. And quantitatively it will need to accelerate and increase its impact 10 to 100-fold by leveraging our Arc performance platform. The future of LEED is LEED positive.”