Back in November 2010, I received a press release that caught my attention:

“The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), developers of the LEED green building program today announced LEED Automation, a new program in collaboration with leading technology companies that is designed to streamline and create capacity for the LEED building certification process. LEED Automation enables LEED Online, the online tool projects use to submit documentation and certify LEED projects, to interact with third party technology platforms.”

Throughout the Greenbuild conference, I kept running into LEED automation. For example, I kept hearing people talking about the demonstration put on by LoraxPro. LoraxPro and other vendors are now providing software that automates the application process for LEED certification.

The automation of the LEED application process is an important development for two primary reasons.

Automation will drive down LEED costs

LEED automation very well may eliminate some of the main criticisms of LEED. The two complaints I hear most often about LEED certification are that it costs too much money and that its it’s an administrative burden to put together the application and documentation. These two complaints are interrelated—if you lessen the administrative burden then costs to certify go down because less time is spent collecting documents and data.

LEED automation will drive down the costs of certification by reducing the time spent on the application process. Just take a look at this LoraxPro video, and you will see how this software streamlines the LEED application process:

 It’s obvious to me why the USGBC has allowed LEED automation–software that simplifies and drives down the cost of LEED certification will increase the number of projects applying. And I anticipate that some of the company’s companies creating Building Information Modeling (BIM) software will incorporate LEED application steps into its their software, further streamlining the process.

Is there a negative consequence to LEED automation?

Automation will eliminate LEED consulting

Many of my friends in the green building industry are LEED consultants. Among other activities, these consultants put together the LEED documentation necessary to apply for LEED certification. This type of LEED consulting will soon be unnecessary

If LEED automation software streamlines the application process, then there will be less need for the services of LEED consultants. Additionally, as more developers, contractors and design professionals begin to use LEED automation software, LEED consultants will no longer be needed. The developers, contractors and design professionals will simply fold LEED administrative tasks into normal business practice; many have already done so. The remaining LEED consultants will fight for the scraps left over and will have to learn to use LEED software going forward.

What are the legal consequences of automation?

  • Will LEED software administrators be more likely to guarantee a level of certification?
  • Who owns the data going into the software? Will all parties agree to readily provide this data? Similar legal issues have arisen from Building Information Modeling (BIM).
  • As with any computer program, the output is only as reliable as the user who inputs the data. Could mistakes in the LEED application process increase if less experienced parties take over the LEED application process?

What do you think about LEED automation?