Projects can continue to qualify under the 2009 version of the LEED green building rating system through October 2016, the U.S. Green Building Council announced today.

Officials say the change will give green HVAC designers and construction companies more time to prepare for the fourth version of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards, which were introduced last year.

“When USGBC launched LEED v4 last year, we set out with one goal in mind — to raise the bar in a way that challenges the building industry to reach higher than ever before,” said USGBC CEO and founding chairman Rick Fedrizzi. “This is our nature and USGBC and its members’ collective mission. However, the market has requested additional time to prepare for LEED v4, so we are responding.”

The council cited a survey at last week’s Greenbuild which found 61 percent of those who responded said they were “not ready” or “unsure” if they could meet the requirements of the new standard.

“Our international LEED users, which account for some 50 percent of new LEED registrations, have also indicated they would like to have more time to move onto the new rating system,” Fedrizzi said.  “This extension will be especially helpful to them.”