LEED version 4.1 is now a reality with the release for use today, March 26, of LEED v4.1 O+M – Building Operations and Maintenance.

“We are excited to introduce LEED v4.1 in beta, the latest update to the LEED rating system,” said Melissa Baker, senior vice president for Technical Core with USGBC, when we spoke last week. “The changes made to the rating system simplify and streamline the certification process for projects of all kinds. We are fully committed to bringing all buildings in as users of LEED, and the launch of LEED v4.1 is a critical step toward realizing our vision of green buildings for all within a generation.”

Mahesh Ramanujam, USGBC’s President and CEO, put it in context last Thursday in LEED’s new move, “The fact is that we now live in a very different world than we did in 2009, when LEED v4 was first written, but we are encouraged that with LEED v4.1, a system updated for today’s market, so much more will be possible.”

The first to be released, LEED v4.1 O+M is the rating system for existing buildings that are undergoing improvement work or little to no construction. It applies to Existing Buildings, Schools, Retail, Hospitality, Data Centers, and Warehouses & Distribution Centers.

And in what is undisputedly the most dramatic positive revision in LEED v4.1 O+M, it is now available for Existing Interior spaces where in the past is was whole building only.

An elephantiasic effort has been made to simplify and streamline LEED v4.1 O+M. While there had been discussion about eliminating Prerequisites, the determination was that the system would be better updated for today’s market by providing templates for policies and otherwise streamlining Credit requirements. That has resulted in what may be the most wide reaching substantive update such that now the majority of points available are performance based.

By focusing on building performance and using data as documentation, LEED v4.1 encourages leadership, transparency and inclusivity,

Ms. Baker said in our conversation. “LEED v4.1 is more accessible and agile, and the beta release will allow project teams to engage with the rating system as we continue to make improvements.”

Using the Arc platform to generate the data, existing building owners can create a performance score across five data categories – Energy, Water, Waste, Transportation, and Human Experience – and a LEED v4.1 O+M certified project must achieve a performance score of at least 40.  The data during the beta period will drive the ultimate form of this v4/1 rating system, but already the environmental industrial complex is excited about the goal to let more existing buildings certify when Arc powers the LEED rating system.

There is of course no Arc “certification” and Arc will thrive and grow as it is integrated within LEED v4.1. Arc is a technology platform that offers online tools for buildings to score themselves. And Arc is available at no charge to LEED registered projects.

LEED v4.1 is not a full version change of the rating system, but rather is what is being described as “the next evolution” of the rating system, hence the nomenclature of moving from v4 to v4.1 and not v5 (.. development is ‘underway’ on the next full version of LEED in collaboration with the creators of the already approved ASHARE 189.1 – 2018 and the soon to be released 2018 IgCC). This update to O+M includes dramatic and hugely positive ‘updates’ to a rating system that had in the past failed to move the existing building market. The updates to other rating systems may not be so dramatic.

LEED v4.1 O+M is available for use, now, in beta (technically a piloting period) that will run concurrently with an approval process that will include public comment and a balloting of the members in 2019. It is unique for USGBC that initially, v4 and v4.1 will both exist on parallel tracts at least until the vote by the members.

You can review the summary of changes, scorecards and other documents from this link.

It will be advantageous to pursue a LEED 4.1 project during this period as GBCI will have designated technical teams for support that will buttress a robust educational and training rollout by USGBC.

LEED v4.1 versions of the other LEED rating systems, including significantly BD+C, will be forthcoming later this year. LEED v4.1 Homes will be the next released.

As I wrote in a blog post last year, LEED v4.1 Announced by USGBC at Greenbuild, an updated 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, is a big deal.