LEED standards face climate risk overhaul

By Corbin Hiar | 04/09/2024 06:14 AM EDT

The sustainability ratings are expected to include protections against floods, wildfires and other climate-related dangers.

Cornell Tech's Tata Innovation Center, center, stands on Roosevelt Island in the Queens borough of New York.

The U.S. Green Building Council is overhauling its LEED standards to better account for climate change. Cornell Tech's Tata Innovation Center, which was built to LEED's silver specifications, stands on Roosevelt Island in the Queens borough of New York. Mark Lennihan/AP

The U.S. Green Building Council is preparing for the first time to require all new buildings that it certifies as sustainable to consider the potential impacts of flooding, rising seas, wildfires and other risks likely to increase as global temperatures rise.

The nonprofit group, which oversees the influential Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system, is also considering measures to award building developers for improving the climate resiliency of new LEED-certified projects.

The changes would represent a major shift in how a system incentivized by hundreds of federal, state and local government agencies considers sustainable design in a hotter and more dangerous world. The proposed overhaul was unveiled last week and is expected to be finalized early next year.

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“The U.S. Green Building Council can really spur on the creation of new more resilient commercial structures,” Samuel Brody, the director of Texas A&M University’s Institute for a Disaster Resilient Texas, said of the proposed overhaul. “So I’m positive on it.”

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