RELi 2.0, a comprehensive rating system that provides strategies and tools for resilient building and design, is expected to be launched on Monday, November 12th.

The launch of RELi 2.0 is significant because it is widely suggested, just as a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment is now standard practice in nearly every commercial real estate transaction in this country, that in the future the same will be true of a resilience assessment.

The Green Business Certification Inc.’s newest rating system, RELi 2.0 will help identify and reduce the risk of damage in the event of a natural disaster, economic disruption, resource depletion or other crisis for buildings, homes, neighborhoods and infrastructure.

Much more than only anticipating weather extremes, in the draft document expected to be approved in the coming days, RELi 2.0 criteria include acute hazard preparation and adaptation strategies along with chronic risk mitigation at the building and neighborhood scale.

Susan Dorn, the General Counsel of USGBC and GBCI could not be more emphatic,

RELi 2.0 offers the most comprehensive certification available anywhere for environmentally and socially resilient design. By selectively bundling existing sustainable and regenerative guidelines with RELi’s groundbreaking credits for emergency preparedness, adaptation, and community vitality, RELi 2.0 is designed to protect occupants, offer shelter to those in the nearby community, allow business continuity, and reduce the cost of disaster-related repair and rebuilding.

Resilience is becoming widely accepted. In a conspicuous example, language in the Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 for the first time requires the Department of Defense, the largest owner of buildings in North America to respond to sea level rise and flooding by constructing new mission critical buildings 3 feet above the base flood 100 year elevation. Of note, RELi 2.0 addresses the issue differently, when it prescribes, “building on green field sites below the 500 year floodplain is not permitted.”

And New York, the largest city in North America, tackled resilience with the NYC Climate Resilience Design Guidelines v2.0 on April 28, 2017, addressing the same flooding issues, but differently, acknowledging the large urban area’s drainage systems are designed to handle approximately the current 3 year storm (.. not RELi’s 500 year storm).

RELi was first developed over 5 years ago by the Institute for Market Transformation to Sustainability and adopted by MTS in 2014, following the ANSI accredited American National Standards procedure. Since 2017, RELi has been managed by the USGBC which, in conjunction with MTS and others led the evolution of RELi 2.0 in large measure synthesizing the LEED Resilient Design pilot credits with RELi’s Hazard Mitigation and Adaptation credits.

RELi 2.0 is similar to LEED in format with certification by GBCI based on a point system. The 15 requirements within the rating system are mandatory and do not carry a point value. Optional credits have point values, allowing projects to seek credits and certification levels that fit their needs. Point values are: 300 to 349 points earned for RELi Certified, 350 to 440 points earned for RELi Silver, 450 to 599 points earned for RELi Gold, and 600 to 800 points earned for RELi Platinum.

Those in the know have described RELi 2.0 as by far the best GBCI associated rating system since LEED v2.2.

The gravitas of this update from version 1.2.1 is made clear by the draft’s own words, “[t]he RELi 2.0 Rating System assumes that there will be an initial emergency response from state and/or federal emergency authorities within four days after the occurrence of a major event.”

As one might expect the rating system contains a requirement, Hazard Mitigation + Adaptation requirement 2.0 Fundamental Emergency Operations: Back – Up Power, that makes a prerequisite of “permanent back – power, switching gear and/ or power hook – ups, and infrastructure for temporary generators ..”

There is a credit, Productivity, Health + Diversity 4.0: Human + Eco HPD: Reduce Pesticides, Prevent Surface + Groundwater Contamination, that rewards “no pesticide, herbicide or fertilizer use” and while such is well intentioned, the credit will have limited geographic appeal as pesticide use, to control mosquito borne disease and the like is widely practiced in many places in this country and the world.

True to the inability to end the long running and loosing wood war, Materials and Artifacts A Credit 5.0: Use Legally Logged Wood from Ecologically Managed Forests, recognizes “FSC Certified Wood” only, (.. okay it is not the Peloponnesian War) and such and is more a distraction than a negative.

Similar to the LEED Innovation and Design Credits, the RELi Applied Creativity credits were created with the intent of providing projects the opportunity to be awarded points for exceptional performance. Up to 20 AC Credits can be awarded for creative thinking and innovative techniques.

Just about the only criticism of RELi 2.0 is that the 91 pages of rating guidelines reads like an architect’s dystopian rule book for society, however, for those readers old enough to have participated in ‘duck and cover’ (under our desks) elementary school nuclear attack drills or had a Cold War era bomb shelter in your back yard, these guidelines seem tame.

In an age where deaths from natural disasters have fallen precipitously, when many believe that the biggest global risk in the future is a pandemic disease outbreak, RELi 2.0 even advances pandemic preparedness.

Mike Italiano, one of the founders of USGBC and CEO of MTS, reiterates, what he sees as only a genesis, “RELi specifies resilience design and construction performance metrics for buildings, homes, communities and related infrastructure.”  He goes to elevate the opportunities,

RELi was also created to serve as an underwriting standard, by identifying resilience metrics which increase tangible economic value / green + resilient building bond cash flow.

And Mike quantifies that vision acknowledging that there are dollar costs, “resilience is the most expensive market in history.  RELi Special Reports issued by CMP and Perkins+Will in 2017 documented existing resilience costs of $6.8 trillion for Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, with $1.9 billion and $326 billion respectively for accelerating sea level rise flooding.  Fortunately, investors with over $70 trillion in assets want to buy Green + Resilient Bonds creating favorable bond financials documented in the Green Bond Business Case released at the NYSE and updated by leading economists.”

If you doubt that a resiliency assessment and underwriting will in the future be standard practice in commercial real estate transactions in this country, be aware that Mike chaired the panel that created the ASTM standard for the Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment. He already revolutionized real estate once. And then there was his role as a co-originator of LEED. Two. You might want to follow his lead this time about resilience and learn about RELi (.. by the way, pronounced ri’lai like rely).

RELi 2.0 is being soft launched on November 12th and projects can be piloted even in advance of a final online process.

There will be a free RELi 2.0 kick-off and education session that will highlight a case study of a project pursuing RELi certification, on Monday, November 12 in Chicago (just before Greenbuild), from 1 – 5 pm. For more information and register click here.