New rating system resets the bar for green building performance.

LEED 2009, the long-awaited update to the internationally recognized LEED green building certification program, passed member ballot Nov. 14. It will be introduced next year as “the next major evolution of the existing LEED rating systems for commercial buildings,” according to the U.S. Green Building Council.

LEED 2009 includes a series of major technical advancements focused on improving energy efficiency, reducing carbon emissions, and addressing other environmental and human health outcomes.

LEED 2009 will also incorporate highly anticipated regional credits ― extra points that have been identified as priorities within a project’s given environmental zone. LEED has also undergone a scientifically grounded re-weighting of credits, changing allocation of points among LEED credits to reflect climate change and energy efficiency as urgent priorities.

“These new updates incorporate eight years’ worth of market and user feedback in the form of precedent-setting Credit Interpretation Rulings, which will ensure clarity for project teams,” USGBC announced. The organization hopes to “reset the bar” for the certification of high-performance green buildings.

LEED 2009 will also take into account new technical advancements through a new “pilot process” for individual credits that will allow major new technical developments to be flexibly trialed, evaluated and incorporated into LEED.

The first public comment period for LEED 2009 opened in May 2008, followed by a second in late August. USGBC received nearly 7,000 comments from members and stakeholders at the conclusion of the second public comment period Sept. 2. The final step in the consensus development process for LEED 2009 was to be balloted for a pass/fail vote among USGBC’s 18,000 member organizations. LEED 2009 successfully passed member ballot Nov. 14.

Detailed information about specific proposed technical changes to the rating system can be found in the background documents that accompany the public comment forms on the USGBC’s Web site: