LEED—the most widely used rating system in the world—is continuously evolving in order to raise the bar on the green building standards and to include the most current standards and real-world project experiences. LEED v4 was introduced at the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo in Philadelphia on November 20, 2013. And since then, there were many changes in the green building technologies as well as in the building standards. During that time frame, U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) also collected valuable feedback from the projects that pursue LEED v4. And now with LEED v4.1, USGBC aims to reflect all those changes and incorporate the feedback they received with LEED v4.1, in order to make a bigger impact to enhancing building performance and reducing climate change.
The first rating system to be updated was the LEED Operations and Maintenance (LEED O+M) rating system and the registration for its beta version was opened on March 2018.
On January 2019, the registration was open for the LEED Building Design + Construction (LEED BD+C) v4.1 and the LEED Interior Design + Construction (LEED ID+C) v4.1 beta rating systems. USGBC uses the beta versions for a year in order to gather feedback from the green building projects that pursue LEED v4.1 beta. With that feedback, USGBC will finalize and officially launch the rating system after the public commenting and the approval phases. As of October 2020, LEED BD+C v4.1 rating system is still under the beta phase.
People that are planning to take LEED exams are also curious about this change and want to know when the LEED credentialing exams will be affected with this change.
The LEED credentialing exams like LEED Green Associate or LEED AP BD+C, will continue to be based on LEED v4 as the v4.1 is still in beta version, which looks like the case throughout 2020 and most of 2021. Once the beta rating systems are approved, USGBC will issue a notice about the date that the exam version will change and after that GBCI will start updating the LEED exams to reflect LEED v4.1. During that time frame USGBC will also update the LEED reference guides. After the exam version change notice, USGBC will allow extra time (expected to be minimum 6 months) for the candidates to continue taking the LEED v4 exam.
To summarize, at this time candidates can confidently start studying for their LEED exam with the LEED v4 materials, as the LEED exams are based on this version. Our LEED Green Associate and LEED AP BD+C study tools are also based on LEED v4 as it is the version that the current LEED exams are based on.
LEED v4.1 can be seen as a critical update rather than a full version change. It references the newest standards and is more performance based. Some credits have been updated on the credit requirements in order to streamline the certification process. Some pilot credits from the LEED v4 ratings system have became actual credits in the newer rating system. And the performance thresholds of some credits have been updated to be more straightforward.
With the US based standards mostly present in the LEED requirements, international projects were having a harder time adapting. With LEED v4.1, there will be more options for the international projects.
We also see that approximately one-third of the LEED BD+C prerequisites and credits are not affected from the version change. In short, we can say that the newer version will be more performance based and is more focused on implementation.