Breaking news: LEED v5 O+M For Existing Buildings

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Operations and Maintenance was the first draft LEED v5 rating system out of the gate! Why? Addressing existing buildings is critical to meeting climate goals. As noted in CAGBC’s earlier article about the launch of LEED v5, this new version is an important milestone in the effort to align the built environment with the Paris Climate Accord’s 2030 and 2050 targets.

Participate in a Beta

LEED v5 for Operations and Maintenance: Existing Buildings beta version was released in draft form at the Greenbuild conference in late September. A version for public comment will come in early 2024. This version is being offered to beta test where participants will work to identify opportunities for refinement and provide critical feedback.

Share your thoughts

An official public comment period will open in early 2024 – but to ensure our feedback has the greatest impact, we’re collecting market insights now! Thoughts can be provided by email through LEED Coach Canada. CAGBC members who are keen to engage in LEED v5 development, are encouraged to join CAGBC’s LEED v5 Accelerators (BD+C and O+M). These Accelerators, with Canadian practitioners and building owners, will review and discuss the drafts to inform and support CAGBC’s feedback to the USGBC.

The Pillars

This version is based on three areas of focus:

Planning for success

LEED v4.1 represented an important step to provide an online platform to share project data and allow comparisons to other projects. However, it was focused on awarding a moment in time. LEED v5 is about guiding those managing buildings on a journey. With that in mind, all credit categories include requirements for policies and/or plans. In addition, three prerequisites are proposed for clients to assess their building for climate resilience, social impact, and occupant needs. The assessments will help guide policy and strategies in other prerequisites and credits. 

Decarbonization and energy performance

Building owners recognize the call to decarbonize existing buildings. Awarding up to five points, LEED v5 recognizes long-term planning for deep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from building energy and refrigerants. Additionally, to strengthen the recognition of the importance of climate change, GHG Emissions Reduction has been called out as its own credit, worth twelve points. It also recognizes that the energy grids are becoming less fossil fuel intensive and awards projects for moving towards full electrification (zero onsite combustion).

To encourage owners to begin on the journey to improve their existing buildings, the rating system is also becoming more accessible even while the bar is being raised in other areas. The minimum energy performance requirement in Energy & Atmosphere has been lowered, requiring an ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager score of 60. This is deliberately less than the previous minimum score of 75 in v4. It is critical that more buildings start their decarbonization journey and a lower entry point for energy performance is one way to do it. However, to gain points for energy performance, a significantly higher threshold of 69 is the base amount under the credit Energy Performance and Commissioning. Project teams can also gain up to four points in this credit when undergoing various commissioning and monitoring exercises.

Resiliency is needed

All CAGBC members are aware of the need for resilient buildings after seeing the climate impacts of 2023 and so should be happy to hear LEED v5 is incorporating a focus on resiliency. Some of the credits and prerequisites are directly related, such as Assessment for Climate Resilience; Operational Planning and Response for Resilience; and Occupant Needs Assessment. Others have a secondary focus on resilience, such as Site Management Policy, Grid Harmonization, and an enhanced credit for Indoor Air Quality Performance. Resiliency also is indirectly addressed through credits such as Heat Island Reduction.

Awareness on Equity

LEED v5 is placing more recognition on the importance of equity which forms an integral part of the new assessment prerequisites mentioned above (e.g., Social Impact). The beta rating system also calls out equity for operations and maintenance staff with a new credit, and requirements within credits such as Green Cleaning and Integrated Pest Management also contribute to equity.


Guidance is not yet available for recertification; look for more information regarding recertification with the public comment version in early 2024.

Stay tuned for more articles in our Lead up to LEED v5 series and visit USGBC’s LEED v5 website for more information.

Decarbonization will be a focus in LEED v5 BD+C


News Source: Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC)

GSBC News | GSBC Solutions Ltd

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