2018 will be a watershed year in the course of green building standards, codes and rating systems. There has been no other single calendar year that has seen the breadth of substantive change that is before us.

In 2018 there will be new versions of LEED, ASHARE 189.1, IgCC, ICC 700, Green Globes and ..

True believers seek to design to a reality that green building, at its foundation, is fundamentally human; that engineering is second rate without aesthetics in the building architecture; and, that buildings work best when the people who will occupy the space have the most contact possible with those who will erect it.

I am not naïve enough to think that the new 2018 versions of green building standards, codes and rating systems will do all of that or what “The Jungle” did to meat packing or what “Unsafe At Any Speed” did to the automotive industry, but it is clear that the real estate industry is developing out of its green building adolescence.

I am optimistic that a global conversation, although centered in the United States, has begun where people are discovering and inventing new ways to build sustainably. Earlier versions of these green building standards, codes and rating systems were largely written in silos by partisans. What appears to be on the horizon in 2018 is the democratization of green building, in the U.S. and abroad.

And while those lofty ends are of great importance if green building is to expand beyond the duality of government building and publicly owned building on the coasts, the means are huge and present real opportunities not only for better and more building but also for those who will educate themselves and be able to execute on the new standards, codes and rating systems.

Among the positive 2018 updates:

LEED v4.1 will be released in first quarter 2018 and credits will be immediately available for use through a piloting period that will run concurrently with an approval process that will include public comment and a balloting of the members in 2019.

LEED v4.1 O+M Building Operations and Maintenance will be released earlier, again through piloting available for use (hopefully) before the end of January 2018. And it has been announced that a new LEED v4.1 Homes is only days from being released.

When the U.S. Green Building Council announces a new version of the most widely used green building rating system in the world, that certifies 2.2 million square feet daily and has more than 92,000 participating projects in more than 165 countries and territories, it is a big deal.

But in the long run, it may be more impactful that ASHRAE 189.1 – 2018 has been approved and is undergoing “a final accuracy review” in advance of publication. To appreciate just how important this is, one need only recall the, then, unprecedented announcement by the ICC, the AIA, IES, and USGBC in 2014 that 189.1 revisions would be collaboratively developed and be the basis of future versions of the IgCC and LEED.  Despite very real questions about the efficacy of the ASHRAE continuous improvement process being used for these purposes, the approved version of the 189.1 – 2018 has just been delivered to the ICC

The 2018 version of the IgCC has been characterized by the ICC as being powered by 189.1. Following ICC’s drafting of the administrative procedures for the technical content, the document that will be the 2018 – IgCC will be published in June.

ASHRAE 189.1 will be published in that same document as an alternative compliance path.

Development of the 2018 – ICC 700 National Green Building Standard is reportedly well underway, but with much input it is now not expected to approved and published until first quarter 2019. Be aware that this delay has apparently not impacted that NGBS – 2012 will sunset this summer and the very popular 2015 version, which has grabbed significant market share, will remain open for new certifications.

With commanding residential market share, the Home Innovation Research Labs has already certified NGBS compliance of more than 100,000 dwelling units. A growing number of local governments have incorporated the NGBS into local codes and incentive programs. Additionally, because the IgCC allows the NGBS as an alternate compliance path for all residential buildings four stories or less in height, broader adoption of the IgCC will mean more NGBS building

The Green Building Initiative’s Green Globes rating system, recently described as the rating system “with a bullet” with big expansion plans for 2018 to be released by JLL as early as this week (.. which may become a huge green building story in and of itself), has announced the third public comment period for GBI01-201X, which will become the next version of Green Globes NC, ended on December 18, 2017. GBI expects to finalize the consensus process in first quarter of 2018 and complete the rating system revision in 2nd quarter of 2018.

The third public comment version is also being piloted and GBI is currently seeking projects scheduled for completion by 2019. Projects selected for the pilot have fees waived, collaboration with Green Globes assessors and opportunities for public recognition. If you want to learn more about the pilot and to qualify as a participant using this rapidly climbing rating system, contact Jenna@TheGBI.org.

The Department of Defense, the largest owner of LEED buildings across the globe, announced an effort to update the Unified Facilities Criteria 1-200-02 High Performance and Sustainable Building Requirements and while a 2018 release date could happen, such now appears not likely.

The situation at GSA is unclear with the new Administrator having been sworn in only 3 weeks ago. Such is significant because GSA, with more than 350 million square feet of building at over 1,600 locations, GSA is second only to the DOD in number of LEED buildings. Since 2003 GSA has required green building, but many believe there will be big changes to those requirement in 2018?

While outside the scope of this blog post, it is significant that China, with the world’s largest green building market, has announced a soon to be released 2018 version of its China Three Star green building evaluation standard for public building (i.e., all non-residential building).

These updates impact contract obligations, including the design and erection of green buildings, as well as government requirements, includes incentives and mandates to build green.

With new leadership at each of the green building groups since the last versions of their standards, codes and rating systems, the 2018 revisions hold great promise for dramatic expansion of market share. This will all result in more and better green building and also immediate business opportunities for those in the green building industrial complex who can execute the 2018 changes.