4 Ways LEED v4 Will Shape the Future of Business

One huge part of marketing is the look and feel of the finished product, what could be called its superficial design. This part of the product is essential to building the brand, a key aspect of business development. It's easy to spot appearance victors. With its trademark design, Apple has marked the company as sleek, professional, and user-friendly. Tesla, similarly, made it clear with its luxury packaging (the Model S body) that the electric car didn't have to be nerdy anymore: now it can be a status symbol.

We all know, though, that looks aren't everything. After all, neither Apple nor Tesla would have wildly succeeded without possessing other competitive advantages. For Tesla, one of those advantages is that it is geared toward environmental consciousness. When companies position themselves as environmentally sustainable choices, though (as with the LEED certified building credential), it's reasonable to wonder how deep that commitment goes. Many of us desire a way to understand, through an objective standard, the extent to which so-called "green" companies live up to the hype.

Since the founding of the US Green Building Council in 1993, companies have filled this need through the green building parameters of LEED certification. However, the member organizations of LEED determined last year that their expectations should be stronger, overhauling the system with LEED v4 (released November 20, 2013).  Now businesses can receive up to six additional credits by providing information on the following:

· comprehensive environmental damage of a product

· source of raw materials

· components of a product, with dangerous ones designated.

Trends spurred by new LEED certified requirements

In response to the approval of the updated LEED standard, Melissa Vernon and Mikhail Davis of sustainability blog GreenBiz suggested four current trends that will be amplified by LEED v4: 

1. Transparency – You can achieve portions of two points on the new rating system simply through openness, which makes sense to Melissa and Mikhail, who argued that "transparency drives improvement."

2. Lifecycle assessment – Rather than looking at green building in terms of individual characteristics (as with the "recycled" descriptor), this version of LEED looks at a green building product's environmental impact throughout the entire lifecycle.

3. Ethical sourcing – The raw materials credit is awarded for providing the geographical location where materials are sourced and statements by suppliers to extract responsibly (only applicable to 90% of materials).

4. Toxicity assessment – LEED v4 allows companies to earn part of a point by reporting on any hazardous substance composing over 0.1% of a product. That credit is similar to the Health Product Declaration, a standard Google has signed along with numerous other companies.

One way that business development is altered is by the release of new standards. Standards and certifications give businesses the opportunity for differentiation from competitors, demonstrating sustainability in the case of LEED v4. Our research-driven design strategies at Beaux-Arts Group can incorporate any compliance and certification parameters, so that your space is holistically integrated with your business needs.