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WASHINGTON, DC-The US Green Building Council has released its schedule of LEED regional credits–one of the changes the standards setting body initiated under its revamp of the LEED system. Called LEED 2009, or LEED v.3, the new version puts greater emphasis on building design that has a more holistic impact on the environment. Accommodating regional issues–such as the water shortage in the West, for instance–is part of that change. USGBC, which did not return a call from GlobeSt.com, says in a prepared statement that these credits are “the first step toward addressing regional environment issues.”

The regional credits, which USGBC has broken down by zip code in each state on its Web site, address six specific environmental issues within a region–issues selected from among the existing LEED credits. The regional credits work as “bonus points” for developers. A project can be awarded as many as four extra points, one point each for achieving up to four of the six priority credits.

The release of these credits is part of a three-pronged effort by USGBC to remake its standards into a comprehensive package–i.e. LEED 2009. USGBC says the changes to the LEED rating system also reflect the rapid advancements in building science and technology, providing incentives for strategies that have the greatest positive impacts on energy efficiency and CO2 emissions reductions. Other parts of its strategy include LEED Online, a new tech interface to LEED registration and certification and a new building certification model, which is based on a network of independent certification bodies.

LEED 2009 was also revamped to make the process easier for developers working further out on the pipeline. Changes in the process are making it easier for developers to monitor and possibly adopt alternative compliance paths for certain standards.

Meanwhile, despite the recession–or perhaps because of it–LEED certification is becoming necessary for developers seeking tenants. To cite one recent example, one of the reasons why Science Applications International Corp. selected Franklin Center–an office building in the Columbia Gateway Business Park–was it had applied for Gold LEED certification. A few years ago, a Gold-certified–or potential Gold-certified as is the case with Franklin Center–would have been rare outside of the District. Now it is becoming more common. Another example is provided by LaSalle Investment Management and Transwestern, which recently announced that One Washingtonian Center received LEED ED: Operations & Maintenance. A 333,846-square-foot building located at 9801 Washingtonian Blvd. in Gaithersburg, MD, One Washingtonian Center is one the first property in the metro area to achieve certification under this particular standard. It is also the first East Coast building in LaSalle Investment Management’s portfolio to obtain LEED certification, according to the company.

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