Some of you may be aware that the USGBC recently announced that they will be outsourcing the certification of buildings. RealLifeLEED is here to tell you that this is probably a good thing, given the delays in reviews I've experienced in the past few months. The press releases will imply that this is because the USGBC is striving to meet ANSI/ISO/ETC. standards, but my guess is that the real reason is that it's having a hard time scaling up as all those registered projects are finally coming through the certification process. This is great news from a "shifting the industry towards sustainability" standpoint, but not so great if you have an owner who wants that plaque yesterday! Please understand I post the following not to gripe about LEED, but to make you professionals understand the length of time you need to allot in your schedules for this process, especially if you're splitting design and construction reviews...
On my most recent project submitted for a design review, THERE WAS A DELAY OF 6 WEEKS AND 4 DAYS BEFORE THE REVIEW EVEN BEGAN!
The Long March to Certification
It started early this year, when I submitted a design review mid-January 2008. I soon got an email back indicating that "due to a backlog from the holidays compounded by capacity issues, your project's review has not yet started... this may take up to two weeks." To be clear, this means there's two weeks before the 25-day review periods begins, to which the USGBC asked in a further email for an additional two weeks (35 day review period). Then you get the comments back and have 25 business days to make any requested changes (if any... but there's bound to be a few). Then they go through the final review phase incorporating those comments, and issue your final review points. You can then accept or appeal those points on an individual basis. I just accepted the review, so I can't tell you how long the appeal process takes.
To sum up, here's how that all timed out for me in the first project:
- RealLifeLEED Submits for Design Review
- Jan 15 - Zero Hour!
- Design Review Commences
- Feb 4 - 2 weeks, 6 days after zero hour
- Design Review First Comments Received
- Mar 24 - 9 weeks, 6 days after zero hour (35 business days after review commenced)
- RealLifeLEED Resubmits Project Incorporating Comments
- Apr 9 - 12 weeks, 1 day after zero hour
- Final Design Review Comments Issued
- May 30 - 19 weeks, 3 days after zero hour!
- Rinse and Repeat for Construction Review!
So you can now see how it takes time to get through the review process. Given the six week delay on the currently under review, we're looking at a schedule around 23-24 weeks long assuming the rest of the process proceeds as quickly as the January project did.
If you're perfect, you could cut off a significant amount of time by not needing any clarifications and accepting the initial review, but I sure as hell wouldn't guarantee the client that I could make that happen. I've been a supporter in the past of separating the design and construction review, but I'm starting to doubt that that's a wise choice. Please share your thoughts (and delay experiences) in the comments section!