Certifying Multiple LEED Buildings Together? Part 1

I've been working on two large LEED projects that each contain multiple buildings. On one we decided to certify each building independently, on the other we're working on certifying a group of buildings under a single certification. In theory, the MPAG should be able to save us money (on certifications) and time (which is money), but in practice all it's done for us is help us to lose points.

Part 2 Now Avalable!

View the "LEED-NC Application Guide for Multiple Buildings and On-Campus Building Projects (AGMBC)".

The Money

The best argument for certifying buildings as a group is for saving on certifacation fees, but this doesn't work in every scenario. While there is the potential for reducing certification fees, it will only happen if you (A) have multiple buildings under 50,000 sf or (B) multiple buildings over 50,000 sf that total more than 500,000 sf.

The reason for this is the way certification fees are charged, which is a flat rate/sf. There are minimum charges for buildings 25,000 sf or less (hence situation A) and a maximum charge for buildings 500,000 sf or over (hence situation B). Take a look at the rate sheet and we'll run through some examples...

Many Small Buildings Example

Let's say I have five 15,000 sf buildings. If I'm certifying them independently, I'll be paying 5 registration fees ($450 each) and five fees for buildings less than 50,000 sf ($1,750 each) for a total of $11,000. If I combine the certifications, I effectively have a single building of 75,000 sf, yielding a total registration and certification charge of $3,075, or a savings of about $8,000. Not bad, especially on a smaller scale project.

Many Mid-Size Buildings Example

What if we had 5 buildings of 75,000 sf each? Registering separately at $3,075 a piece, we have a total charge of $15,375. Registering the projects together we effectively have a single building of 375,000 sf. Since this is within the 50,000 - 500,000 sf range, we're really only saving the flat registration fee, and our total cost of certification becomes $13,575, or a savings of $1,800. Doesn't hurt, but in the context of a 375,000 sf of floor space this really isn't much.

Many Really Big Buildings

This is where you really can make some savings. Now lets say we have five 375,000 sf buildings. Registering separately at $13,575 each, we have a total cost of $67,875. Since there is a maximum charge of $22,500 for buildings over 500,000sf, we're effectively saving certification fees on 1.375 million sf of space, or $44,925!

Now that you took the time to read through all of that, take a look at the much easier to read chart!

LEED Multiple Buildings Registration Fees


Sally said...

Man, this is some nerdy shit up in here.

joelmckellar said...

yeah... but useful!

Congrats on the Dwell house and the mocoloco plug... I bet your blog is getting crazy traffic right now!

Unknown said...

Very nice work Joel.

Unknown said...

Can I certify 3 buildings as one large building (core and shell) without having to use MBC?

joelmckellar said...

My understanding is that the multiple buildings application guide is just a guide, and not hard-written rules. It was created for LEED-NC projects, but I don't see why it couldn't be used for CS projects as well.

I'm working on a group of CS projects right now that I think could be grouped together, but we decided to certify independantly for reasons I'll explain further in future posts. Unless you're saving substantial sums on registration and certification fees, I tend to vote for independant certification.

Hope that helps? Sorry I couldn't be more definitive...

Chris Grimm said...

On one of our military projects we used the campus approach, and the Corps reviewer in charge of LEED said we were not in compliance for 2 of the credits unless they applied in every building. So some buildings had to have a little bit of carpet added to them, and something about parking was the other concern. I don't think adding a little carpet made those buildings any more environmentally sound, but that's da rules I guess. It may depend some on who is donig the credit interpretation too.

In this case the project was registered under USGBC but not certified, instead the Government was reviewing for compliance. This way they can benefit from all the research and templates that the USGBC has to offer but they can modify the rules slightly - for example they do not always require commissioning to be paid for by the Owner - strange huh?