Only 1.6% of Legacy LEED AP's Have Opted Into New Credentialling Program

So I was browsing through the GBCI's LEED AP directory the other day and noticed how few LEED AP's had a specialty listed next to their status. It's been exactly 7 weeks and one day since 'legacy' LEED AP's were able to upgrade to the new credentialing maintenance program (see my questions and concerns about the benefits of such a move here), and I thought it would be interesting to figure out how many have made the plunge into the new credentialing system. After running some numbers I've estimated that less than 1.6% of legacy LEED APs have moved into the new program.


Maytag Man Considering Whether Clients Will Notice LEED-AP Appliance Operations + Maintenance Specialty

If we keep up at this rate (roughly .8%/month), less than 20% will have opted in by the start of the next credentialing cycle two years from the start of the program. I suspect that many of you, like myself, are simply holding out to get a better feel for the new program as the USGBC/GBCI figures it out themselves. The alternatives are that (a) many people have no intention of switching over or (b) that people just haven't been paying attention. I don't really have any frame of reference for all this, but it seems like a slow uptake to me.

The Numbers Behind the Number

This is an incredibly boring explanation of the numbers, and I would suggest not reading them for that reason. At the same time, I get very frustrated when people make claims and show no data to back it up. As of 6:00 pm EST, 09.22.09, the GBCI directory listed the following:

  • Everyone (GA, AP, and AP w/ Specialties) - 122,527
    • Note that placement on this list is voluntary, and I've seen total AP's listed at 131,655 in a 09.09.09 email from the USGBC. My numbers just use GBCI published AP's, which should be a reasonable proxy for AP's at large.
  • LEED APs without specialty - 121,271
    • This number seems to include all previous LEED APs and those who have upgraded to the new system (i.e. those that now have a specialty as well). When you upgrade, the directory appears to list both your 'conventional' LEED AP designation as well as the specialty separately. I did not see anyone on this list with a LEED GA certification (implying they took the tests instead of just opting in). In other words, if we take this number and subtract only those with a specialty, we should get LEED APs who haven't upgraded, but I haven't found a sure way to separate this out.
  • LEED APs with specialty + LEED Green Associates - 3,156
  • LEED APs with specialty 'only' - 2,018
    • Presumably this would include both people who have taken the new tests and those that opted in. The figure for converts I've chosen simply takes this number and divides it by the the 122,527 'everyone' number above (1.64% conversion).
  • LEED Green Associates - 1,163
    • This should only be possible from taking the exam itself, but I've seen a few names that also listed the regular "LEED AP" designation as well, which is strange in that there doesn't seem to be any reason to take the GA test if you could just opt into the higher specialty??? Interestingly, 1163 + 2018 = 3181. Since a search looking for people with either designation yields 3156 hits, it suggests that there is only an overlap of 25 people (3181-3156=25), suggesting only 25 have so far passed both the LEED GA and a LEED specialty exam.

    You probably noticed all the assumptions above, and the directory left me with more than a little confusion since I couldn't separate out certain classes entirely. I put in an email to the USGBC for an official number, though I did so with hardly any advance notice. If I receive official numbers I'll be sure to post them, but it's clear that it's highly unlikely that more than 1.6% of legacy LEED AP's have opted into the new system.

New LEED MRc7, Certified Wood Credit Fair But Complex


How I Learned to Accept a Change from Simple Imperfection to Torturous Accuracy

Yesterday the USGBC released the 2nd draft of the proposal for a new MRc7, Certified Wood credit for LEED-NC, LEED-Schools, LEED-CI, LEED-CS, and LEED-EBOM. You may remember that this was ultimately spurred by the lumber industry's complaints about how their own certification label, the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), was unfairly excluded from the LEED credit which only recognized the Forest Stewardship Council's (FSC) more rigorous requirements. You can view the results of a report comparing various lumber certification schemes here. The new proposal is lengthy enough that I thought a summary here, with some commentary, might be useful to you guys.

More Complexity Please

As a result the USGBC's consensus-based process for developing new standards has developed a more inclusive and equitable standard for ranking the standards called the USGBC Forest Certification Benchmark. The new approach is a sort of LEED system within LEED where if a particular forest certification standard complies with over 48 prerequisites and more than 40% of the 32 voluntary credits (sound familiar?), you may attribute the cost of those products towards your "certified wood" percentage needed to earn credit MRc7.

Sample Benchmark Requirements

A sample from page 10 of the benchmark requirements

The more a particular scheme complies with with the voluntary requirements, the greater the relative value of that product you may contribute to hitting your 50% (based on cost) certified wood threshold needed to earn the credit (click here for the new LEED-NC credit draft for yourself):


Really compliant schemes now are worth 3x as they actually cost

This may all sound a bit ridiculous, but to be fair, the requirements themselves all seem make good sense and is necessary to thwart claims that the USGBC is in the back pocket of any particular certification body. By establishing a standard for standards, the USGBC can simply point out the deficiencies of any particular standard instead of (seemingly) arbitrarily accepting or rejecting individual groups. I'm by no means a sustainable forestry expert, but given the 1,800 comments received on the first draft I'd be amazed if anything substantial slipped through the cracks.

Please Follow Through With This!

"Building project teams will not be required to determine if a particular forest certification scheme meets the Benchmark’s requirements." So says the executive summary of the proposal, and I can't stress enough how important it is that the USGBC make it extremely easy for LEED APs to find out the status of one certification system over another. If I had it my way, I would only review certification schemes every two years and list all accepted schemes in the reference guide. If it's not in there tough luck, there's always LEED 2011. It's extremely important that I don't need to become an expert on the shifting forest certification system policy... All the USGBC has released on this end of the revisions is the Forest Certification Benchmark Conformance Assessment Process draft, which is a little light on details.

At a minimum, the USGBC should clearly indicate where to find a COMPLETE list of the current status of any particular forest certification system on the USGBC website, preferably on a URL that never changes. This website should be listed not just in the reference guide but also in the rating system itself.

Will my project be affected?

Though the new standard will only be required if you register a project after the date the credit is accepted (still a ways off). Once accepted though, you are permitted to use the new option in existing projects (v2009 or earlier) as an alternative compliance option.

Last Chance to Change

If you're vehemently opposed to this new system or you have some thoughts on how to improve it, you have until October 15th, 2009 to make your voice heard. Anyone can comment, not just USGBC members, but when it comes up for vote it's members only. I'm also curious to hear your thoughts hear, so please share your thoughts by leaving a comment!

Just noticed this is the 100th post!

...and we're off!!!

Real Life LEED has promised to be a blog for the LEED AP, by a LEED AP (FLAP-BLAP 4 txtrs). For this reason, I've made a policy of not pointing out every new project that earns certification, but please forgive me for announcing that I've officially sent off the first LEED project I've worked on from start to finish to the GBCI for a combined design and construction review! I'm sure that's when most LEED AP's celebrate anyway... We're expecting Gold, so wish us luck, though I've got a number of buffer points saying you won't need to!

I love the smell of green checkmarks in the morning!

I've worked on other projects in a limited role, and have sent off others for reviews, but this is the first one where my name is on the top line of all of my firm's credit submittals. Once the reviews come back, there will be a number of posts discussing some of the issues we faced in design and construction, what I learned corralling paperwork, an update on where the GBCI is falling with review delays, and proper recognition of all involved (my involvement was pretty much limited to LEED paperwork and coordination)!

Coincidently, this project was most of my test-prep for the LEEDv2.2 exam... It was registered originally as a LEED-NCv2.1 project. I was tasked with going credit by credit to determine which would shine more favorably on this particular project, a task that required me reading the reference guides for both 2.1 and 2.2 and writing summaries of the differences. That, along with the online USGBC class was pretty much what comprised my studying for the test.

In Other News

...I've once again slipped into my typical summer non-posting ways! That will change in the next few weeks as I profile some user issues with the new LEED-Online, start planning for my first Greenbuild trip, and update recommendations on how to study for the new v3 series LEED AP exams... if the USGBC's official guides would ever come out (supposedly available October 09... it was September a few weeks ago and "Summer 09" a few months ago). Stay tuned!