Are you ready for a new, more technical LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system? The U.S. Green Building Council,, Washington, D.C., is amid the process of LEED 2012 development. The proposed changes will focus on increasing the technical rigor of the rating system and expanding the market sectors that are able to use LEED.

According to the USGBC, the proposed technical changes have been developed based on market data, stakeholder ideas, expert engagements, and advances in technology and market acceptability of LEED and green building practices.

The organization began the LEED 2012 development process in mid 2009 with a call for ideas, and the first public comment period lasted from Nov. 8, 2010, until Jan. 19, 2011. The second public comment period opened in July and recently closed. It is anticipated LEED 2012 will be put forth for a member ballet vote late next summer after all public comment and response periods end.

For construction companies currently registering projects with LEED, the USGBC intends to continue to use LEED Online v3 as the tool to gather LEED building data. Companies that plan to learn the system in the future will be able to continue to use LEED Online v3 after LEED 2012 is launched.

One key point proposed for LEED 2012 is to create a foundation of transparency for information to be gathered, shared, and used to inform project teams. Recent technology advances are enabling teams to sync data and information from energy simulation software with LEED Online. Going forward, there will likely be more technology advances surrounding LEED Online.

In particular, the proposed LEED 2012 system has increased emphasis on automated systems. In the proposition, projects will need to meet more detailed criteria and achieve more points for the installation of automation systems. For example, automating the building’s demand response allows utilities to better predict the building’s contribution, allowing operators to make more informed decisions in the future.

In similar news, the AIA (American Institute of Architects),, Washington, D.C., recently introduced five new documents for use on sustainable projects. The new documents address the roles, risks, and opportunities encountered on sustainable design and construction projects.

The new documents include a standard form of agreement on sustainable projects between owner and contractor; owner and architect; architect and consultant; contractor and subcontractor; and a general conditions of the contract for construction.

Green building is not just a passing fad. The trend toward increased efficiency in buildings and homes continues to gain momentum, and the tools to enable such a trend continue to advance as well.