The U.S. Green Building Council unveiled the latest version of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) during the 2013 Greenbuild Expo that was held in Metropolitan Acoustics’ hometown of Philadelphia. LEED v4 brings with it changes to the acoustical requirements for school and healthcare from the previous version, LEED 2009. And for the first time, LEED offers credits for acoustical design in a variety of BD + C (Building Design and Construction) projects. Read on to learn about the new LEED v4 credit opportunities.
LEED for Schools has always offered a credit for acoustical design to go along with its acoustical performance prerequisite. However, the latest version brings back somewhat more stringent criteria, from LEED for Schools 2007, for background noise levels from mechanical equipment. The design of core learning spaces will again have to stay below a maximum of 40 dBA (decibel A-weighted scale) for the prerequisite and 35 dBA in order to earn a credit. There is also a slight change in reverberation time criteria; for core learning spaces over 20,000 cubic feet, LEED v4 now points to criteria developed by the NRC-CNRC (National Research Council of Canada). Furthermore, the acoustical prerequisite for LEED for Schools v4 requires attention regarding sound levels from exterior noise.
The most recent version of LEED only changes the requirements for healthcare slightly by updating its reference to the latest ASHRAE Handbook. Other than this modest housekeeping, the design criteria for up to two credits in acoustic performance stay the same, mostly by following the 2010 FGI (Facilities Guidelines Institute) guidelines for healthcare. One credit can still be earned in speech privacy, sound isolation, and background noise. A second credit can then be acquired with additional achievements in acoustical finishes and site exterior noise.
Hilary Clinton waves before giving the keynote speech at the 2013 Greenbuild Expo in Philadelphia.
The most exciting announcement regarding LEED v4 is the new opportunity to obtain a credit in acoustical performance in a wide range of different BD + C projects. Acoustical credits are now being awarded in New Construction, Data Centers, Warehouses and Distribution Centers, as well as Hospitality. The new credit includes criteria for mechanical background noise, sound transmission, reverberation time, sound reinforcement, and sound masking systems. This new ability to acquire invaluable LEED credits in the acoustics discipline can help a project realize the next level on the certification podium; whether it is by moving up from gold to platinum, or by just making the certification cut.
LEED v4 is now out of the gates, and with it comes changes and new opportunities in acoustical design credits for an abundant variety of projects. However, schools and healthcare can register under the previous version, LEED 2009, or the new version until June of 2015 to help ensure a smooth transition. More information on every aspect of LEED v4, including acoustical performance, can be found at usgbc.org/v4. The Winter Olympics in Sochi remind us how great achieving a medal can be, so if your project is going for LEED certification, the acoustical design may be the credit that brings home the gold.