Revocation of LEED Certification is the title of the largest section within the U.S. Green Building Council’s Guide to LEED Certification: Commercial. The more than 2,800 word section consumes over 3 pages of the 7 page guide; far more words are dedicated to revocation than any other topic.

And one of the most common questions by owners considering LEED certification is, does USGBC revoke certification? 

However, with all of that attention paid to the topic, Susan Dorn, the USGBC and GBCI General Counsel makes clear,

While GBCI reserves the right to revoke and there have been a few occasions to review project certification, GBCI has never found a reason to proceed against certification after a review.

That said, the Certification Challenge Policy may be initiated by GBCI or any third party within 18 months of a project’s certification (an owner is advised to maintain all associated records through that period).

The Certification Challenge Policy is in place to protect the integrity of the LEED certification program. In an incident of intentional misrepresentation which results in an inappropriate award of LEED certification, it is clear that GBCI will reduce the level of certification (e.g., from Gold to Silver) or revoke certification. But such would only happen after the multi level challenge process where an owner is afforded the right to actively participate in the process, including if an owner desires two hearings where witnesses may be called and cross examined, the first before a panel appointed by the GBCI President and the latter before the GBCI Board.   

Despite that the policy expressly says it “is not meant to serve as a vehicle for the adjudication of disputes between outside parties” to make certain sub contractors, materialmen and the like do not file challenges, contract documents now commonly have confidentiality provisions, including expressly precluding any such communication.

Certification is a one time grant based upon a one time review, not dissimilar from issuance of a building permit. Only LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance has an expiration date requiring recertification every 5 years. USGBC just recently announced specifics for how projects are to do that.

However, GBCI does also retain the right to revoke certification from any project where it is “not provided with energy and water use data on an ongoing basis after LEED certification is conferred, as required.” To date, GBCI has not been pursuing that data.

Interesting, beyond the guide, the new GBCI Certification Agreement has new provisions expanding termination, including “this Agreement will automatically terminate in full .. upon the complete  or substantial demolition of a Project.” And in an effort to protect the LEED trademarks, “You agree if you use the Marks in any manner that could or does disparage, tarnish, or dilute the distinctive quality of the Marks, .. GBCI will have the right, at its sole option, to terminate this Agreement.”

We know with certainty that GBCI has never revoked a certification, but GBCI does not make public complaints that initiate the Challenge Policy. It is apparent challenges are infrequent. So, among the many issues associated with green building, to quote the Bob Marley lyric, “don’t worry” about revocation of LEED certification.