The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is extending the deadline for teams registering projects under the LEED 2009 rating system by 16.5 months in an effort to give practitioners, manufacturers, and suppliers extra time to accommodate some of the more rigorous requirements of the forthcoming LEED v4 standard. The new deadline of Oct. 31, 2016, is more than three years after LEED v4 formally launched at Greenbuild 2013—and a year later than anticipated.

The USGBC initially had built in an overlay of a year and a half between the two rating systems, allowing teams to register under either LEED 2009 or LEED v4 through June 15, 2015. The latest decision widens that period, but it shouldn’t be seen as a regression, says Lance Hosey, FAIA, chief sustainability officer at Washington, D.C.–based RTKL and a member of the USGBC’s LEED Market Advisory Committee. “While we’d all love to see quicker progress, the changes in LEED v4 are significant enough that moving too quickly could risk losing parts of the market that aren’t ready to adopt more rigorous standards,” he wrote in email. “The USGBC’s goal is to mainstream green building, and market transformation requires market saturation.”

In a press release, the USGBC said that results of an informal poll taken at this year's Greenbuild Conference and Expo in New Orleans last month indicated that six in 10 attendees were "not ready" or "unsure" about pursuing LEED v4 and would require more time to prepare.

The forthcoming update includes significant and, at times, contentious changes in key areas including material health and transparency in the building-products supply chain.

Stacy Glass, vice president of the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute (C2CPII), says she was "unfazed" by news of the extension, which she doesn't think will hamper support for the material health and transparency requirements in v4. The group's third-party Cradle to Cradle Certified Product Standard is listed as a compliance path in LEED's Materials and Resources category. "Let's not underplay the role of architects and designers who are calling for this stuff," she says. "I think that manufacturers are really feeling pressure there and that's been a great grassroots effort. That probably won't change even though [the LEED 2009 registration deadline] has been extended."

“When USGBC launched LEED v4 last year, we set out with one goal in mind: to raise the bar in a way that challenges the building industry to reach higher than ever before,” said USGBC CEO Rick Fedrizzi in a press release for the deadline extension. “However, the market has requested additional time to prepare for LEED v4, so we are responding.”

To that end, the USGBC recently announced deliverables from a $3 million grant awarded to them by Google in the fall of 2012. Among them: the launch of an open application programming interface (API) to make manufacturer-supplied product data available for use by third-party certifiers and others; a material health certificate based on the first step to achieving Cradle to Cradle products certification under version 3.0 of that standard; and online access to GreenScreen product reports.

Other major changes coming in LEED v4 surround building benchmarking and post-occupancy reviews. And progress has been made there, too.

Earlier this year, the USGBC launched its LEED Dynamic Plaque to track the outcomes of an existing building’s sustainable strategies for energy, water, waste, transportation, and human experience in real-time and in a manner that is easily accessible by occupants. Last month, the USGBC announced a partnership with Honeywell Building Solutions to integrate the plaque with the manufacturer’s building automation technology in order to pull data in real-time from a building’s systems.