LEED v4.1 Brings Big Changes

USGBC has released the drafts for the LEED v4.1 BD+C and ID+C  rating systems. The v4.1 rating system evolves v4 to enable greater implementation and increased focus on performance. LEED v4 was released in 2013 but has not seen much adoption in the market; fewer than 800 commercial projects have certified under the rating system. Version 4.1 addresses some market concerns by offering additional strategies and lowering stringency for some credits.

Big changes in the drafts include updated referenced standards, more point thresholds for multi-point credits, and added flexibility on some of the underutilized credits. Nine credits/prerequisites feature updated referenced standards. Fifteen credits are more accessible including the challenging Material and Resources Building Product Disclosure and Optimization credits.

Referenced Standards

The main revision to MEP (Mechanical, Electric, Plumbing) credits is the updating of referenced standards. LEED v4.1 requires projects adhere to a compliance pathway in ASHRAE 90.1-2016. Projects must comply with the prescriptive provisions of Sections 5-10, Section 11 Energy Cost Budget Method, or Appendix G Performance Rating Method.

Thermal Comfort, Commissioning, and Indoor Air Quality also reference updated standards.

Updated Referenced Standards in v4.1 BD+C and ID+C Drafts

LEED Credit or Prerequisite v4.1 Referenced Standards
LTc Reduced Parking Footprint Transportation Engineers’ Transportation Planning Handbook 4th edition
EAc Fundamental Commissioning and Verification ASHRAE Guideline 0-2013
ASTM E2947-16 Standard Guide for Building Enclosure Commissioning
EAp Minimum Energy Performance 90.1-2016
EAc Enhanced Commissioning ASHRAE Guideline 0-2013
EAc Optimize Energy Performance ASHRAE 90.1-2016
EQp Minimum Indoor Air Quality Performance ASHRAE 62.1-2016
EQp Enhanced Indoor Air Quality Strategies ASHRAE 52.2-2017
ASHRAE 62.1-2016
EQc Thermal Comfort ASHRAE 55-2017
EQc Acoustic Performance 2015 ASHRAE Handbook, HVAC Applications

Streamlined Credits

EA credits Renewable Energy Production and Green Power and Carbon Offsets have been combined into EAc Renewable Energy. Additional options and point thresholds have been added for IPc Integrative Process, LTc Reduced Parking Footprint, SSc Open Space, WEc Cooling Tower Water, EQc Low-Emitting Materials, and EQc Low-Emitting Materials, EQc Indoor Air Quality Assessment, EQc Daylight. Thresholds have been lowered for several credits making achievement easier. LTc Access to Quality Transit, SSc Protect or Restore Habitat, SSc Rainwater Management, MRc Building Product Disclosure and Optimization- Sourcing of Raw Materials, MRc Sourcing of Raw Materials, MRc Construction and Demolition Waste Management, EQc Low-Emitting Materials.

Impact on Projects

Beta registration for BD+C ID+C is now open. LEED v4.1 beta registration is open in tandem with v4 while USGBC gathers user feedback. For existing v4 projects that are interested in using v4.1 credits, substitutions are available.

For questions about LEED projects and certification, contact GHT’s sustainability team at greenteam@ghtltd.com.


As a Sustainable Programs Manager in GHT’s Sustainable Programs studio, Meghan McAvoy, LEED AP BD+C, O+M, TRUE Advisor, supports clients throughout the design and construction process who seek LEED, WELL, Net Zero and other sustainable program certifications.