It is the week between Christmas and New Year’s, which can only mean one thing:  bloggers are getting lazy and doing "best of" posts. 

There was one story I wrote this year that was far and away more interesting to me than any other:  the Northland Pines High School LEED certification challenge.  I found the story to be so fascinating that, as one blogger put it, I could not shut up about it.  By the time I was done, I had written nine blog posts on the story that spanned from May 5 to June 21.  By the end of the series, I was warning people how many posts were left.  I simply could not help myself; the posts wrote themselves.  You can read all nine posts in one easily downloadable PDF:   "LEED Certification Challenges and the Northland Pines Incident."

Instead of focusing on the actual conflict, I am going to focus on the aftermath.  I, along with many other writers, pointed out the inherent problems with the LEED certification challenge policy.  The US Green Building Council moved quickly to revise the challenge policy.  Here’s the story:

On June 21, 2010, I wrote a blog post titled "Green Building Challenge Policy Requires Fixes."  My post detailed problems with the LEED certification challenge policy, as published in the LEED Certification Policy Manual.  You may recall that I wrote on, and on, and on about the challenge policy, resulting in a grand total of nine posts on the subject.  I don’t want you to have to go back and read all nine posts so I have combined them into one white paper titled "LEED Certification and the Northland Pines Incident" (pdf) that you can download now. 

The biggest problem with the previous LEED challenge policy was that literally anyone could challenge any LEED project at any time based on any LEED point

On September 17, 2010, the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) published a revised LEED Certification Policy Manual (pdf)(Ed. Note: this link is now broken after further revisions to the policy manual), as discovered by my good friend Tim Hughes. The Policy Manual significantly revised the challenge policy, which now reads in part:

9.3 Basis for an Initiation of a Certification Challenge: GBCI reserves the right to institute investigations and review documentation for any reason or for no reason at all. In addition, GBCI encourages third parties who wish to make a complaint, or bring to light information affecting the grant of LEED certification to do so in the following manner. Parties seeking to submit a complaint or report information affecting the grant of LEED certification must have specific personal knowledge of an event or condition that would prevent a project from satisfying a particular credit, prerequisite, or MPR. Complainants must indicate the credit, prerequisite, or MPR that is affected. Further, such persons must indicate to the fullest extent possible, in the form of a written statement, details of such event or condition including the following: i) the alleged offending conduct or condition; ii) the persons involved; iii) other persons who may have knowledge of the facts and circumstances concerning the allegation, including contact information for such persons; and iv) the identity of the person presenting the complaint including such person’s full name, address, email, and telephone number. Complaints must be submitted to GBCI within two (2) years of the award of LEED certification for a project. GBCI cannot guarantee anonymity to persons submitting complaints. If GBCI determines that the complaint is frivolous or irrelevant to the credits, prerequisites and MPRs required for LEED certification, no further action will be taken.

Under this new policy anyone with specific personal knowledge can challenge any LEED project within two years of LEED certification based on any LEED point.

It took the USGBC less than three months to revise the LEED Certification Policy Manual and challenge process.  That is incredible and the USGBC should be commended for quickly moving on this issue.