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The membership of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has voted to approve a 14% increase in the requirements for building energy performance within the LEED Green Building Rating System standards, the USGBC has reported.

The change, which is effective immediately, will require all LEED-certified projects to achieve at least two "Optimize Energy Performance" points, which will improve the energy performance of all LEED-certified green buildings by 14% for new construction and 7% for existing buildings, according to the USGBC.

In order to help projects meet the new requirements, the USGBC is developing a prescriptive compliance path for use as an alternative to energy modeling.

Buildings are an important part of overall climate change strategies because their energy use, water consumption and operations generate nearly 40% of CO2 emissions in the U.S, the council said. The USGBC estimates that the changes to the standard will reduce the environmental and economic impacts associated with excessive energy use and maximize energy performance of buildings through cost-effective energy efficiency measures.

"Improving energy performance will immediately increase the LEED Green Building Rating System's impact in reducing building energy related greenhouse gas emissions," said Tom Hicks, USGBC vice president.

The action was taken as part of the council's climate change agenda. It follows the passage last November of an eight-point agenda by USGBC leaders to address climate change and buildings.

Click here for more information.

Download a PDF of the new energy optimization section of LEED here.