The United States Green Building Council is accepting public comments on the latest version of the LEED rating system and preservationists have an opportunity to weigh in on these proposed changes. You can read more about the revisions under consideration, their potential impact on historic buildings and find out how to submit your comments by visiting the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s website.
LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is the most widely used and well-known system for measuring the environmental impacts of buildings and encourages strategies and techniques that reduce water and energy consumption, the use of recycled materials, and the “smart” siting of buildings, among other things. While the historic preservation comunity has been touting the environmental benefits of maintaining and reusing existing buildings for decades, the LEED rating system has helped launch the environmental impacts of buildings into the public consciousness.
All sorts of policies, regulations, and incentives are linked to this system and some places require that all new construction or substantial rehabilitation projects meet LEED Standards. The Sustainable Communities Tax Credit Program, which passed the Maryland General Assembly in 2010, provides an additional 5% credit for historic rehabilitation projects that meet LEED Gold or Platinum (non-LEED rehabilitation projects qualify for a 20% credit; LEED Gold projects qualitfy for 25%).
However, it’s not always easy for rehabilitation projects to meet both LEED criteria and historic preservation guidelines. Some believe that LEED undervalues the environmental benefits of reusing existing buildings while others contend that LEED encourages the use of new sustainable products instead of reusing older materials. What do you think?
It’s important for the preservation community to share their thoughts on these issues, so take a few minutes to learn about the proposed changes and submit your comments by January 14!