The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), creators of LEED, the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design green building rating system, announced significant streamlining for all LEED prerequisites and some credits for California projects that are pursuing certification under LEED v4. New projects built to California’s robust energy and green building codes (CALGreen) are pre-approved for significant streamlining of fundamental LEED requirements. 

"LEED has always helped to raise the bar on code so that we can continue to push the market to reduce carbon emissions," said Wes Sullens, USGBC director for codes technical development. "In the case of CALGreen, LEED is able to celebrate the leadership of California by recognizing its efforts and allowing projects to pursue both CALGreen and LEED. This streamlining effort recognizes those leaders in the green building space who constantly push the market to new heights. It also signals to the rest of the U.S. what’s possible when you add the weight of LEED to a robust building code, and that for those already operating at this level, certification is actually very attainable."

With California leading the way, many cities, counties and states are adopting green building strategies as mandatory requirements in local codes. USGBC has been working on the greening of building codes for more than a decade. Since 2014, USGBC has worked to align requirements between LEED and CALGreen and while all projects must earn a minimum of 40 points to earn LEED certification, California’s green codes put project teams on a more direct certification path. 

Last July, USGBC substantially expanded streamlining the LEED v4 Building Design and Construction (BD+C) credits and prerequisites on projects built to California’s codes. To date, more than three million square feet of space has taken advantage of that effort. Now, projects built to the 2016 California code can seek certification through additional streamlining of the LEED v4 Interior Design and Construction (ID+C) and Homes rating systems. Additionally commercial projects pursuing points toward certification using the Optimize Energy Performance credit now benefit from an update that reduces the need to run additional energy models if the project is building to, or exceeding, California’s code. 

"The LEED streamlining announced today is welcome news for local governments in California, who are working hard to meet climate and sustainability goals," said Deborah Weintraub, chief deputy city engineer at the Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering. "We think the duplication of work that is minimized by this recognition in LEED will reduce costs and allow us to focus our time and the public’s resources on pursuing higher levels of LEED. We applaud the USGBC for taking this step to recognize California."

In addition to being the first state in the nation to adopt a mandatory green building code, California is home to some of the first LEED buildings and consistently certifies the most projects in the U.S. year after year per capita. In 2017, 475 projects achieved LEED certification in the state, representing more than 89.26 million total square feet of space.