LEED v4.1. BD+C - what's new in the LCA credit?

What’s new in LEED v4.1 BD+C for Whole-Building Life-Cycle Assessment

Changes to Whole-Building Life-Cycle Assessment in LEED v4.1

LEED v4.1 introduces a number of changes that make materials credits more accessible for projects, and moreover, the Minimum and Optimize Energy Performance credits are also now weighed by both the cost and their greenhouse gas emissions for the first time. This is a run-down of the draft version of the LEED v4.1. BD+C manual.

MR Credit: Building Life-Cycle Impact Reduction, Option 4. Whole Building Life Cycle Assessment

Summary of changes:
  • Credit is more focused on carbon reduction, extra weight on the global warming potential
  • Credit offers a starting point of one point for doing an LCA, without comparison
  • Credit points are tiered based on performance improvement, so you can get between 2 to 4 points depending on reductions you achieve
The credit maintains the definitions of the constant parameters between baseline and proposed buildings and prevents increase by more than 5% compared with the baseline building in any of the impact categories considered.  
Paths Requirements for the path in LEED v4.1 Points
Path 1 Conduct a life cycle assessment of the project’s structure and enclosure 1 point
Path 2 Conduct an LCA for structure and enclosure that demonstrates a minimum of 5% reduction in global warming potential and two other impact categories 2 points 2 points
Path 3 Conduct an LCA for structure and enclosure that demonstrates a minimum of 10% reduction in global warming potential and two other impact categories 3 points 3 points
Path 4 Incorporate building reuse and/or salvage materials into the project’ s structure and enclosure for the proposed design. Demonstrate reductions compared with a baseline building of at least 20% for global warming potential and at least a 10% reduction in two other impact categories 4 points
  The manual also clarifies the requirement for documentation, requiring a narrative of how the life cycle assessment was conducted and if applicable for paths 2, 3 and 4 what changes were made to proposed buildings in order to achieve the related impact reductions. The manual also clarifies the difference of characterization of fossil fuels between CML and TRACI. Evaluation: overall the change is positive. At the same time, it’s a missed opportunity to clarify baseline building requirements and going even deeper in carbon reduction with less focus on other categories. In One Click LCA: All the LEED v4 compliant tools (TRACI-based for North America, CML-based for Europe and International) can be used as is also for LEED v4.1. We will introduce to LEED v4 supporting workflows additional guidance for working with LEED v4.1. in January.
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