Washington, D.C., May 22 -- The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) opened the first public comment period on LEED 2009 this week, marking the third phase of the commercial green building rating system that was launched in 2000. According to the organization, LEED 2009 will address improving energy efficiency, reducing carbon emissions, and other environmental and human health concerns.

“Continuing to seek the right balance between technical advancement and market transformation was a driving force behind the LEED 2009 work,” Scot Horst, chairman of the volunteer LEED Steering Committee, said in a statement. 

Although the USGBC, which promotes the construction of homes and businesses that are environmentally responsible, profitable, and healthy, is planning to “reorganize” the LEED standards, the organization is stressing that this is not a “tear down and rebuild” period.

“When it was introduced in 2000, the LEED Green Building Rating System helped to spark a revolution that is changing the way we build and operate our offices, schools, hospitals, and homes,” said Rick Fedrizzi, USGBC president. “LEED 2009 resets the bar for green building leadership because the urgency of our mission has challenged the industry to move faster and reach further.”

And while the USGBC is actively seeking change for its commercial green building standards, its residential program will remain the same for now. “Right now the changes to LEED will only apply to commercial projects—residential and neighborhood development will be separate,” Taryn Holowka, USGBC director of communications, told EcoHome via e-mail. “Eventually they will be incorporated but that is a few years off.”

Detailed information about specific proposed technical changes can be found here. The public comment period goes through June 22.