Last month, the U.S. Green Building Council officially unveiled its new Dynamic Plaque, with the release of its latest version of its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system.

USGBC has been talking about the dynamic plaque for a few years now, and has high hopes that it will help building owners and designers better track how a building actually performs once occupied.

The system, which includes both a physical, “dynamic”, plaque inside a building as well as software that can be updated and tracked online, allows building owners, designers and tenants, to measure a building’s performance across five categories: energy, water, waste, transportation and human experience in real time. USGBC takes those data and gives the building a score compared to other buildings of the same type.

A common criticism of LEED by some architects and others in the building community has been that the rating system is too prescriptive, and doesn’t give designers enough flexibility in designing energy efficient buildings.

According to Scot Horst, senior vice president for the USGBC’s LEED program, the Dynamic Plaque is USGBC’s answer to those critics. “Instead of saying here are these precise things you need to do and you have to track that you have done exactly these things’…This is turning that around and saying, “you do whatever works for you—we’ll still track and score you against your peers, to show whether or not it’s working.’”

The idea, Horst says, is to allow for more innovation and also to get a better sense of how buildings actually perform with people inside.

USGBC is working to get the plaque into the first 25 buildings around the world, and hopes to expand to “several thousand” in 2014, Horst says.

The Dynamic Plaque is one of the options building owners can use to recertify buildings that have been rated through one of LEED’s rating programs, such as LEED for new buildings and LEED for existing buildings.

Benchmarking building performance is not necessarily a new concept—the EPA’s EnergyStar label has been around for years--but state and local policies encouraging or mandating that building owners assess and sometimes disclose how well buildings perform are proliferating.

ASHRAE has developed a similar program to measure building performance, the building energy quotient, which brings in a certified building energy assessment professional to perform an energy audit and give the building a label based on its performance.

For more information on ASHRAE’s program,click here.

For more on the Dynamic Plaque,click here.