The updated Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design green-building rating system, called LEED 2009, will put more emphasis on climate change and global warming. In the draft LEED 2009, out for public comment until June 22, building energy use and proximity to mass transit has become more important, says the chair of the 21-member LEED 2009 steering committee of the U.S. Green Building Council.

“To get higher levels of certification, builders would have to focus on those areas,” says Scot Horst, president of both The 7 Group and the nonprofit U.S. Athena Institute International, both Kutztown, Pa. “We’re raising the bar,” he says, explaining, for instance, that there will be fewer options to mitigate a negative transportation element with some other positive element.

“I expect we are going to get comments from people who feel it may be too difficult,” says Horst.

LEED 2009, out for public comment, will give points for energy use and proximity to mass transit.

Another change coming in 2009 is a reweighting of the rating-system credits to a 100-point base. The new structure provides a pool of credits for all LEED rating systems, whether it is LEED for new construction or LEED for existing buildings. This allows a more holistic approach, says Horst.

The update will offer credits for regional issues such as water conservation. LEED will have 110 total points, including 100 base points, six innovation and design points and four regional points. LEED will provide six ecosystem-related categories to USGBC chapters. Chapters can then select four.

Information about the expansion of the certification process, improvements to LEED Online and future technical improvements, including integration of life-cycle assessment into LEED, will be available this summer.

The committee also is making structural changes to allow LEED to be updated more often. “We’ve put ourselves on a continuous improvement path,” says Horst. LEED reorganization information is available at If the committee adjusts the draft as a result of comments, a second public comment period will follow.

The Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit introduced the rating system in 2000. As of May 1, more than 3.5 billion sq ft of building projects had been registered for certification, says USGBC.