- In LEED, what is the difference between a ‘rating system’, an ‘adaptation’, and a ‘version’?
- Are quick overviews of each rating system available?
- How should project teams choose a rating system, adaptation, and version for their project?
- What are the rating system options for certifying a whole building vs. a portion of a building?
- How should multiple building projects determine which rating system and adaptation to use?
- What do we do if the building or project is eligible for more than one rating system or adaptation?
- What does ‘incomplete/complete’ mean in the context of BD+C and ID+C?
- My project is Core and Shell (CS) and another Building Design and Construction (BD+C) adaptation at the same time. Which rating system do I choose?
- What rating system adaptations do restaurants, nightclubs, wellness centers, art galleries fit under?
- How can we re-register our project due to a change in the rating system, adaptation or version?
- What is the most current version of LEED?
- What is LEED v4.1?
- How long are older versions maintained?
- Can a project registered in LEED v4 utilize v4.1 credit requirements?
In LEED, what is the difference between a ‘rating system’, an ‘adaptation’, and a ‘version’?
The difference is easiest to understand by example:
Examples of ‘rating systems’:
- Building Design and Construction (BD+C)
- Operations and Maintenance (O+M)
- Interior Design and Construction (ID+C)
Examples of rating system 'adaptations’:
- New Construction (NC)
- Core and Shell (CS)
- Data Centers (DC)
Examples of rating system 'versions’:
Are quick overviews of each rating system available?
LEED for Building Design and Construction (BD+C):
LEED for Interior Design and Construction (ID+C):
LEED for Residential Design and Construction:
- LEED for Residential Design and Construction Rating System
- LEED for Residential Design and Construction Reference Guide Introduction and Overview
LEED for Operations and Maintenance (O+M)
LEED for Neighborhood Development (ND):
LEED for Cities and Communities:
How should project teams choose a rating system, adaptation, and version for their project?
Projects looking to certify entire neighborhoods, communities, or cities should skip the following steps and review Choosing between LEED for Neighborhood Development and LEED for Cities and Communities. For all other projects:
Step 1: Review project scope of work and determine the appropriate rating system
Generally, project teams should first look at the scope of work to determine the appropriate rating system. Projects involving only interior fit-outs or alterations of existing gross floor area would be suitable for ID+C. Projects involving new construction or major renovation of whole buildings would look at BD+C. And projects involving existing buildings or spaces that have been operational and occupied for at least one year should consider O+M. Please note that projects that have previously certified under any version of LEED ID+C, BD+C, or O+M have the option to pursue Recertification under LEED v4.1 O+M using a streamlined process.
Overviews of each rating system can be found above. If the project's scope of work appears appropriate to more than one rating system, the 40/60 rule explained in our LEED Rating System Selection Guidance can be applied to select between them.
Step 2: Determine the correct adaptation
Then, within the appropriate rating system, the project team would determine the appropriate adaptation.
In the case of D+C rating systems the team must determine the percentage of the project's gross floor area (GFA) that will be 'complete' (see related FAQ in this article) at the time of certification. Projects where less than 60% of the GFA will be undergoing a complete interior fit-out are ineligible to pursue ID+C certification. BD+C projects where less than 60% of the building's total GFA will be complete at the time of certification would have to use the CS adaptation, regardless of use type(s)--however, please see Choosing between LEED for Residential and LEED for Building Design and Construction for important additional guidance regarding projects involving residential uses. Otherwise, the 40/60 rule explained in our LEED Rating System Selection Guidance should be used to determine the most appropriate adaptation of ID+C or BD+C based upon the use(s) of the space or building.
In the case of O+M projects, the project would also use the 40/60 rule to confirm the appropriate adaptation option(s). In v4 O+M adaptations are based upon building use, and in v4.1 O+M there are only two adaptations, one for whole buildings (O+M: Existing Building) and another for interior spaces (O+M: Interiors).
Step 3: Choose the version
Finally, project teams may choose from whichever versions of the selected LEED rating system adaptation are open for registration. Presently, LEED v4 and the v4.1 Beta (see related FAQ in this article) are open for new registrations. Prior to registering, we recommend that the team confirm that the project can comply with all MPRs and prerequisites and appears likely to capture enough credit points to achieve at least a Certified rating. Please be aware that in the D+C rating systems, projects registered under v4 can substitute v4.1 credit requirements (see related FAQ in this article).
What are the rating system options for certifying a whole building vs. a portion of a building?
Please note the BD+C and O+M rating systems (except for v4.1 O+M: Interiors) are designed for a whole-building certification, meaning the entirety of the building's GFA is required to be included in the project, with limited exceptions explained in the FAQ "Can project teams certify a portion of a structure (e.g. a new construction addition or an office or hotel tower that rests on a retail podium) as a separate LEED BD+C v4 project?" in Minimum Program Requirements (MPRs).
The LEED whole-building rating systems are:
- all adaptations of the v4 and v4.1 Building Design and Construction (BD+C),
- all adaptations of v4 Operations and Maintenance (O+M),
- v4.1 O+M: Existing Buildings,
- all adaptations of v4.1 Residential BD+C
The rating systems that are designed to address portion(s) of a building are:
- all adaptations of v4 and v4.1 Interior Design and Construction (ID+C)
- v4.1 O+M: Existing Interiors
To find further information on each rating system, visit our website.
How should multiple building projects determine which rating system and adaptation to use?
Each building should be evaluated for rating system and adaptation appropriateness individually. Please also see our FAQs regarding Multiple buildings.
What do we do if the building or project is eligible for more than one rating system or adaptation?
As explained in the LEED Rating System Selection Guidance, when several rating systems may be appropriate for your project, use the 40/60 rule to determine the one that is most appropriate. The entirety of the project will then pursue certification under that one rating system and adaptation.
For instance, if your project is a newly constructed mixed-use tower of nine floors with a gross floor area (GFA) of 65% offices (NC), 20% residential (Multifamily Midrise/Multifamily), 15% data center (Data Center), the entire building/project must pursue certification under Building Design & Construction (BD+C): New Construction (NC), because more than 60% of the building's total GFA is appropriate for that rating system adaptation.
If the new building’s GFA is 40% offices (NC), 40% hotel (Hospitality), 20% data center (Data Center), the project team can choose between NC and Hospitality.
However, note that the 40/60 rule has an exception for the Core and Shell (CS) adaptation. If more than 40% of the GFA of a building is ‘incomplete’ at the time of certification, without an interior fit-out, (regardless of the final usage type) and 60% offices (NC), the project has to register as BD+C: Core and Shell (CS).
What does ‘incomplete/complete’ mean in the context of BD+C and ID+C?
‘Incomplete’ in the context of BD+C means that the building does not have its basic floor, wall, or ceiling finishes installed, or essential mechanical, electrical, plumbing systems or fixtures necessary to occupy the space for its intended use, at the time of certification. ‘Complete’ means that no further work is needed and the project is ready for occupancy. Movable furnishings, fixtures, and equipment (FF&E) need not be installed to consider a space/room complete for BD+C rating system selection purposes. For more information on incomplete spaces, please read ‘Incomplete Spaces’ section in the Getting Started portion of the v4 BD+C Reference Guide.
In the context of ID+C, ‘complete’ means that FF&E is installed for at least 60% of the gross floor area (GFA) at the time of certification. For more information on incomplete spaces, please read ‘Incomplete Spaces’ section in the Getting Started portion of the v4 ID+C Reference Guide.
My project is Core and Shell (CS) and another Building Design and Construction (BD+C) adaptation at the same time. Which rating system do I choose?
Amongst the BD+C adaptations, CS is unique, in that, if it applies to more than 40% of the building's GFA, the building/project must register under CS regardless of the use type spaces within the building. In other words, if more than 40% of the building GFA will be left 'incomplete' at the time of certification, the project has to register as CS. This is true even when, for instance, 60% or more of the GFA qualifies under BD+C: NC, Healthcare, or Retail, etc.
This stipulation about CS is a bit different than the typical application of the 40/60 rule which teams use to determine the rating systems. For more info, please visit our LEED Rating System Selection Guidance.
What rating system adaptations do restaurants, nightclubs, wellness centers, art galleries fit under?
Night clubs, fitness, wellness center, food & beverage spaces (or restaurants) and art galleries may be registered under either the New Construction (NC) or Retail adaptations, although usually food & beverage spaces would be expected to register under Retail.
How can we re-register our project due to a change in the rating system, adaptation or version?
Should the scope of work change part way through the design and construction process (i.e. between LEED project registration and review submission), the project team may contact us for assistance in changing the project's rating system, but be aware that all documentation uploaded and forms completed in the original project registration in LEED Online will likely be lost in this re-registration process. Change of rating system can be done for no additional fee as long as it is done prior to the first round of certification review (Combined or Design, depending upon the selected review timeline). If re-registered after the review process begins, the project team would likely be able to receive credit for the registration fee, but not the review fees.
What is the most current version of LEED?
Projects are currently eligible to register under either LEED v4 or LEED v4.1. New projects must register under one of these versions. LEED v4 will remain available to new projects until a newer version of LEED is balloted and approved by members. After approval, USGBC will set and publish the date by when LEED v4 projects will have to register.
For more information on certification deadlines please visit our website.
(Updated on 10/6/2022)
What is LEED v4.1?
LEED v4.1 the latest version of LEED. It raises the bar on building standards to address energy efficiency, water conservation, site selection, material selection, day lighting and waste reduction.
V4.1 was developed to respond to the market’s feedback on v4. The updates in v4.1 include:
- Energy metrics include both cost and greenhouse gas emissions (a first for LEED)
- Upgrade to ASHRAE 90.1-2016
- Applicable and achievable credit requirements throughout the rating system
- For example, updated Rainwater Management requirements with a lower minimum percentile storm events and added guidance for zero-lot-line projects
- And a new Renewable Energy credit better that addresses diverse methods of renewables procurement and evolving global renewables markets
- Restructured Materials and Resources credits that include options acknowledging efforts at varying levels, bridging the gap from where the market is currently to the goals identified in LEED v4 and carried into LEED v4.1
As a first step in launching LEED v4.1, USGBC released beta versions of each LEED rating system, allowing the market to work with the draft rating systems and provide feedback based on real-world application. The goal is to have project teams across market sectors engage with a pre-ballot version of LEED v4.1 to help USGBC improve aspects of the LEED v4.1 program, identify challenges with proposed documentation and areas in need of additional education development.
For more information on v4.1, please visit the LEED v4.1 page of our website.
How long are older versions maintained?
Per the LEED Foundations Documents, a rating system can be maintained through addenda, LEED interpretations and alternative compliance paths. USGBC intends to continue to use a combination of the processes available to maintain older LEED versions while they are in active use by projects.
Can a project registered in LEED v4 utilize v4.1 credit requirements?
A v4 Building Design and Construction (BD+C) or Interior Design and Construction (ID+C) project can substitute any credit with the equivalent v4.1 credit, free of charge. However, v4 Operations and Maintenance (O+M) projects are not eligible for v4.1 credit substitutions. Also, projects registered in LEED v4.1 may not utilize v4 credit substitutions.
For more information, please read the article "Substitute any LEED v4 credit with LEED v4.1".