The U.S. Green Building Council has announced that projects will still be able to register under the current LEED 2009 through October 31, 2016.

News of the extension of LEED 2009 began circulating yesterday and is being heralded and widely supported as positive across the environmental industrial complex. 

This is arguably the third extension of the date when projects must use the new LEED v4. The date is an extension from the close date of June 1, 2015, announced in summer 2102 when the vote on “LEED 2012” (now LEED v4) was delayed.

In USGBC’s announced 3 year cycle for updated LEED, 2015 would have been the third year and next version of the green building rating system was expected. Instead, USGBC continues to work on v4 and in particular on the v4 Materials and Resources credits.

It is important to appreciate this delay in the context of what else is going on in green building. In early 2015 the new and 2015 International Green Construction Code will be available, an updated ASHRAE 189.1 will be published, the new ICC 700 National Green Building Standard will be approved, and there will be a 2015 Enterprise Green Communities Criteria. 

Recall USGBC announced in July 2013 that LEED v4 had been approved by an affirmative vote of more than 86% of those in the consensus body of members. v4 officially launched in November 2013 at the USGBC Greenbuild Conference and Expo in Philadelphia and projects have been able to register under v4 since that time.

And while there are over 57,000 commercial projects participating in LEED, comprising more than 10.5 billion square feet of construction across 50 states and 149 countries, data available from GBIG shows there are only 253 registered LEED 4v projects across all the ratings systems and only 9 certified v4 projects.

There remains uncertainty over the still pending several appeals from the vote approving LEED v4 and this extension no doubt had a lot to do with that.

A great deal of attention was garnered at Greenbuild last week by the announcement of a new USGBC Supply Chain Optimization Working Group (with the members to be announced later, .. likely in early November) that will strive to perfect the LEED v4 Materials and Resources credits as part of the USGBC and American Chemistry Council joint initiative. Much of the chatter at Greenbuild was that the EPDs and HPDs were too far out in front of good science and that a step back was necessary. There is much speculation that it is the contemplated overhaul of the Materials and Resources credits that are driving this v4 delay.

Observers should not overread this announcement. It is clear that LEED v4 will be a hugely positive advancement. And LEED is going to thrive.

Read the USGBC press release here.

In light of this 18 month extension, it is now necessary that developers and builders of projects planned to break ground through 2016 evaluate if that building is better registered under LEED 2009 or v4? And beginning immediately, green building industry contract documents must be modified to anticipate v4, and a rewritten and new series of Materials and Resources credits.