LEED v4 promises a more multifamily-friendly approach. Launched at the United States Green Building Council’s (USGBC's) Greenbuild conference in 2014, it isn’t entirely new, but it became the required certification path for program applicants in October.

For multifamily LEED adherents, the v4 program offers a more-tailored and -streamlined approach to certification, including a revamping of how mid-rise residential buildings qualify for the certification and consideration of building performance under the LEED Operations and Maintenance (O+M) designation, as well as for the LEED Dynamic performance plaque.

“We’re very excited about the opportunity to begin certifying existing multifamily buildings, as it is new for us to focus on the performance of an existing asset rather than the construction of a new building,” says USGBC vice president of strategic relationships Marc Heisterkamp. “We could build every new building to LEED, but it won’t make the impact we need to make [to the built environment], and existing multifamily will be key there.”

Changes to O+M certification for multifamily include:

• Adding multifamily-specific scoring approaches for water metering;• Requiring the tracking of compost and furniture waste;
• Adding alternative paths for natural ventilation in multifamily properties; and
• Developing new cases for residential thermal comfort.

The USGBC’s decision to include multifamily as a separate asset class is a major advancement. “If USGBC is successful in adapting LEED for use with wood-framed, low-rise apartment buildings, it will be … very positive all the way around,” says Jim McGinley, senior vice president and chief development officer for Plano, Texas–based Monogram Residential.

LEED v4 will also require developers to be more selective with building materials, as an effort has been made to stress environmental health and wellness in the program, particularly for residential properties.

“It will be interesting to see how the market responds to LEED v4, because it’s very strategically challenging the market in new directions,” says Erin Hatcher, sustainability manager and development associate for AMLI Residential. “If they’re successful, I think LEED v4 will be a game changer.”