The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) recently announced the details of the much-anticipated Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Version 3 building certification program (LEED v3, also referred to as LEED 2009). LEED, a third-party certification program, is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings.LEED v3, scheduled for launch on April 27, 2009, contains significant changes to the LEED rating systems. The USGBC has established a sunset date of June 26, 2009, for existing LEED rating systems; new projects registered following that date must register using the new LEED v3 rating systems.The changes incorporated into LEED v3 will affect the decisions of developers, owners and design professionals involved in LEED certification of real estate projects. Clients may have to decide quickly which LEED version they will choose for projects currently under development or planned for development, and therefore should understand the changes integrated into LEED v3 and the impacts they may have on LEED certification of current and planned projects.Projects registered under the existing LEED rating systems that have not yet received LEED certification may upgrade to LEED v3 for no additional cost until Oct. 24, 2009.Changes incorporated into LEED v3 include: Credit harmonization. Credits will be harmonized and standardized across the various LEED rating systems. Revised rating systems. Existing LEED rating systems will be revised to reflect new standards and credit calculations. These new rating systems include: LEED 2009 for New Construction and Major Renovations LEED 2009 for Core and Shell Development LEED 2009 for Schools New Construction and Major Renovations LEED 2009 for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance LEED 2009 for Commercial Interiors Credit weighting. LEED v3 now gives greater weight for strategies that will have greater positive impacts on energy efficiency and reduction of carbon dioxide. Regionalization. LEED v3 will provide extra points to projects achieving certain LEED credits designed to address environmental issues related to a project's geographic location. Online tool updates. LEED v3 includes updates to the LEED-Online tool used to manage the LEED registration and certification process. Updated certification model. LEED v3 includes an updated certification model that is based on ISO standards and that will be administered by the Green Building Certification Institute and 10 new certification bodies. More information on LEED v3 can be found on the USGBC's Web site. Davis Wright Tremaine now has two real estate attorneys who are LEED Accredited Professionals: Lloyd Chee in Seattle, Wash., and Monique Lee Hawthorne in Portland, Ore., both of whom are available to consult regarding the details of LEED v3 as well as existing LEED rating systems.