The U.S. Green Building Council's (USGBC) original Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System has been in place for seven years now and has spawned several off shoot certification programs, including the newly introduced LEED for Homes as well as the LEED for Neighborhood Development program (currently in pilot phase).

The USGBC now sees the need to align the credits (the points that accrue toward LEED certification) across the various rating programs to make the system more user-friendly and flexible. Although the rating system will still reflect differences in building types, as LEED programs have evolved to address the complete life cycle of buildings, there has been some duplication and drift among similar credits in the different systems.

According to the council, further development and refining of LEED's technical framework will integrate the core elements of all the rating systems, reducing the duplication and “credit drift” and giving users greater accessibility to certification information.

These efforts will create a unified LEED “bookshelf,” according to architect Scot Horst, LEED Steering Committee chair, that will still accommodate specific building types. The USGBC's goal is to respond to the needs of the marketplace without compromising LEED's rigorous standards. A more streamlined and adaptable rating system should be available by close of 2008.