In mid-November, after more than a year's work, the U.S. Green Building Council announced the approval, by its 18,000 member organizations' ballots, of LEED 2009, a major overhaul of its green-building certification system for design and construction projects. The revised ratings scheme is meant to keep the council's revered gospel of green abreast of new technologies and environmental concerns.

Among the new version's notable changes will be the "reweighting" of some LEED credits to favor design strategies that address climate change and energy efficiency. For example, easy pedestrian access to public transit may now gain six points rather than just one; the credit for water-efficient landscaping has doubled, to two points; and the use of renewable energy sources on a site can earn a maximum of seven points (depending on the percentage of total energy use) rather than three. There are enhanced credits for design innovation, and still in the works are "regional credits," bonus points for a project's adaptations to its local conditions.

The new rating system is more streamlined, to reduce conflicts among the multiple LEED versions for specific types of projects, such as schools, retail, and renovations. Criteria common among various project types are now consolidated into a single "pool" of credits reflecting general requirements, though market-specific credits will remain in effect for design solutions that are peculiar to certain building types.

LEED is also expanding in scale. The same week, the council announced that it had opened a public-comment period, through Jan. 5, 2009, for its new LEED for Neighborhood Development rating system, its first attempt to make the designs of communities more sustainable. For more information, visit