Dramatic changes have been announced by the U.S. Green Building Council to the LEED v4 Homes Multifamily Lowrise and Multifamily Midrise rating systems with the aim of broadening market share.

Regular readers of this blog will recall that I blogged from Greenbuild last month, when Scot Horst first publicly announced dramatic changes to LEED multifamily were forthcoming.

On October 20, 2016 USGBC published the October 2016 LEED addenda release, including interpretations, corrections, pilot credits and form and calculator updates. LEED addenda updates are issued quarterly in accordance with the Foundations of LEED and there are now a total of 5,226 corrections and interpretations in the Addenda Database. This quarter, seven new LEED Interpretations, seventeen corrections, three pilot credits, and three forms were published.

Again, in this instance seventeen corrections were published for LEED v4 (i.e., 100002112 – 100002128). Specifically, the Rating System Selection Guidance was updated to allow high-rise residential buildings of four stories or more to use New Construction or Multifamily Midrise (Correction 100002128).

Modifying the Rating System Selection Guidance for multifamily residential projects to increase flexibility for users, the correction provides,

Replace the last sentence under LEED BD+C: New Construction and Major Renovation bullet with the following: “High-rise residential buildings 4 stories or more can use New Construction or Multifamily Midrise.”

Replace LEED BD+C: Multifamily Midrise bullet with the following: “Multi-family residential buildings of 4 or more occupiable stories above grade. The building must have 50% or more residential space. These buildings may also use LEED BD+C: New Construction.”

The updated guidance allows any new construction or major renovation multifamily project, four stories or taller, that is seeking certification under LEED v4 to use either LEED BD+C: Multifamily Midrise or LEED BD+C: New Construction.

Accepting that there is no one homogenized multifamily building, one or the other rating system may be a better option for a particular project. LEED BD+C: Multifamily Midrise is tailor made to address multifamily construction and includes the added factor of onsite verification. LEED BD+C: New Construction is of course less specific to residential projects and provides likely lower first costs and additional documentation approaches that are better suited to many, if not most projects including those outside the U.S.

This update only affects projects that are multifamily buildings four stories and higher. For other project types seeking certification using LEED v4: Single-family and multifamily buildings three stories or fewer should still use LEED BD+C: Homes; Existing multifamily buildings should still use LEED O+M: Multifamily; and Core and Shell projects should still use LEED BD+C: Core and Shell.

Additionally, on December 1, 2016, GBCI will launch a new pricing schedule for LEED registration and certification across all active versions, including residential. Key changes include a $300 increase for project registration and new residential pricing and updated options for residential projects pursuing appeals.

The new registration fee for multifamily projects is $1,500. Certification for up to 49 units is $.045 per square foot and for more than 50 units $.040 per square foot. There are discounts for Silver, Gold and Platinum USGBC members. Appeals are now $500 for simple credits and $800 for complex credits.

In recent years LEED multifamily has been getting its clock cleaned including by NGBS Green Multifamily Building Certification. Many more high and low-rise apartment buildings, including high and lowrise condominiums, as well as residential units in mixed use buildings were NGBS registered and certified than pursued LEED in the last two years.

Time will tell if these ‘dramatic’ changes to LEED v4 are enough to broaden the market share of LEED multifamily.