The Future of LEED: Re-certification

I found a YouTube video of a green roof being set on fire that I planned to post today.  You know another topic would have to be very important to pre-empt a green roof fire video. 

Such a topic has revealed itself. 

On Wednesday, we started talking about the New York Times LEED energy performance article.  Many who understand the LEED rating system know that there has been some problems with LEED buildings not performing as anticipated in terms of energy consumption.  What interests me most is what the USGBC plans to do to resolve these problems going forward.  Scot Horst, USGBC senior vice president, revealed some important plans in the article: 

Mr. Horst, the LEED executive, said that LEED may eventually move toward the E.P.A.’s Energy Star model, which attests to energy efficiency only for the year the label was given, similar to restaurant ratings.

“Ultimately, where we want to be is, once you’re performing at a certain level, you continue to be recertified,” Mr. Horst said.

For regular readers of Green Building Law Update, the concept of re-certification may sound familiar.  Here's what I had to say on the topic back in July:


I guess it is prediction time.  At the very least, the next version of LEED will require more post-construction, post-substantial completion strategies for certification. 

Or the USGBC could simply merge two rating systems: LEED for New Construction with LEED for Existing Buildings Operations and Maintenance (LEED EBOM).  With LEED 2009, the two rating systems are already on the same point scale.  And one of the ways to comply with Minimum Project Requirements is to achieve LEED EBOM certification every two years. 

I wish I had simply had the guts to say the USGBC will require LEED re-certification for future projects.  Because it is going to happen. 


Some Buildings Not Living Up to Green Label (NYT)

Could LEED NC and LEED EBOM Join Forces? (GBLU)

Photo: suttonhoo

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Comments (4) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Leigh Monette - September 4, 2009 11:34 AM

This is certainly a logical progression, given the intent of LEED certification.

The cynical side of me has commented before about the increased revenue stream that will be created by this development. My view was that the change was analogous to the move away from software licensing (one-time purchase) to software subscription (regular revenue stream for developers).

But users of software benefit greatly from this shift, since they get the latest updated versions without a hefty upgrade fee.

And, of course, that parallels the re-certification movement. If the underlying goal is to build sustainable, efficient structures, then what good is a one-time, static review and approval of the means and methods of construction?

If we are truly invested in environmentally-conscious building practices, then of course we'll have to monitor the actual performance of the structures post-certification.

Thanks for the post, Chris.

Leigh Monette - September 4, 2009 12:56 PM

And of course the issue gets clouded so quickly, with some wonderful points about the usefulness of data collection made by Spielvogel here:

Which leads to the next conundrum - what benchmarks will be used in re-certification? Comparisons among similar projects nationwide? Or localized comparatives between similarly-sized or -purposed LEED and non-LEED buildings? What impact for tenant uses? How will those be weighted and compared? A uniform energy footprint scale (good old blind justice)?

There's certainly more to sort out, but it's refreshing to see intelligent dialogue working toward a solution.

Tim Hughes - September 4, 2009 4:03 PM

I agree that is where USGBC wants to go ... I am not sure they can get there, and talk about a statute of limitations/repose can of worms!

Chris Cheatham - September 9, 2009 7:37 PM

@Leigh Monette - Thanks for the great comments. I view energy data collection as the first, necessary step on the way to requiring actual energy performance.

@Tim Hughes - I am still trying to work out the legal issues associated with re-certification. Lots of parties will attempt to limit their liability.

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