The changes in direction for the LEED programs from version 3 to version 4 are staggering. First, you need to recognize that LEED is available in over 80 countries and the new version was developed with an international flavor. In keeping with that thinking, version 4 now contains many references to requirements developed throughout Europe and the rest of the world.
The most significant changes have occurred in the Material & Resources section of version 4; to the point of making it unrecognizable to those of you who have been working under the version 3 programs. Almost all of the credit names have changed as well as the point system. The new direction for this section deals with disclosure and optimization.
Some of the credit names in this section have disclosure and optimization in their title and have individual options within the credits that address these two issues. The thinking behind this is to get the industry to move in the direction of disclosing product ingredients and then take it a step further by pushing to optimize ingredients that have better environmental impacts in products for the future.
So, what impact does this new version have on the woodworking community? The credits that we have known previously for the Material & Resources section are still involved, however, they are not worth as much as they were in version 3. The bottom line here is that we will have basically the same amount of paperwork but it will generate fewer credits. I believe this trend will continue in upcoming versions.
I feel that USGBC is getting away from credits that are more specific to certain materials and trying to deal with materials as a whole. I am not sure what that means for us dealing with wood products, but I still believe that wood is the most sustainable building product.