This session featured three big-wigs at the USGBC providing glimpse into the successes and failures of the new LEED-Online version 3 system and where the system is heading in the near future. Interestingly, the overall tone was very apologetic and they really worked to emphasize the continuous improvement taking place behind the scenes. Amazingly, the questions from the crowd were the most complimentary and cordial that I've seen. The crowd really seemed to feel that most of the big problems are behind us. I actually haven't gotten into a v3 project yet, and am curious to hear your thoughts.
These guys care... is what I heard about 20 times during this session
The first LEED-Online system was produced in about 6 months with 10 people on the team to respond to a urgent demand for an online certification system. "We consider LEED-Online 2 to be a success story because it met the mandate for an online system" on a shoestring budget in a very short period of time.
LEEDv2 wasn't scalable, and from the beginning the USGBC knew it would have to be replaced entirely. To date, about $7 million and 100,000 man-hours have been invested in the recently released current system, LEED-Online v3, and it's designed to scale based on LEED growth and allow flexibility for future improvements. 1956 projects are currently registered under v3 with three complete certifications to date. There were also additional features in the new system, including smart forms that automatically populate common figures (e.g. occupancy and square footage figures) and a rating system selection guide for new users... You've heard all this before though, so let's get to the update on how the new system is performing:
"The complaints started rolling in in July and August... I just want to acknowledge that we're not happy with the feedback and the way the system was performing... Thanks to the feedback received, [read: complaints] we're in a much better place today than we were early in the Summer." The number one complaint according to their tracking revolves around form problems and incorrect calculations that result. There were multiple comments requesting feedback, so your complaints do get heard! The feedback button seems to be the primary means of complaints, though the hotlines account for over 500 complaints so far.
There was a great slide about the problems they've faced (I'll see if I can get that posted here), showing a number of problems since the launch that have been resolved (mac access, login problems, a full size credit review page, SOME form calculation errors, etc.) I did get the impression from the panel that the USGBC is really pushing to resolve these problems, and they've spent 64,000 man hours since the launch working on problems. According to their own figures, out of 2336 known issues with the system, all but 154 have been resolved.
The Form Issues
Most issues are resolved through release updates that occur over the weekend to minimize disruptions, but for some credits, notably the EAp2 form for energy efficiency compliance, they have resorted to project by project updates as requested by project teams. They're now going through a process that updates problematic credit forms based on those that have the most impact (i.e. are used by all or most project teams). If a form has not been used yet (i.e. no information has been uploaded), it will be upgraded automatically. If information has been loaded, the USGBC leaves it up to you to decide to upgrade the form, and strongly recommends that you do so. At that point, the USGBC will update it for you over a few days wth no data re-entry required.
The main vision outlined by the USGBC for the near future involves improved usability and performance (including ongoing maintenance), robust help content including integration with LEEDuser (note: LEEDuser is a sponsor of this site, but I promise I would have mentioned it anyway!), and project reporting and metric features that weren't well described. Before opening it up to questions, Mike Opitz declared "I stand before you today with a strong sense of humility and a strong sense of hope."
"What's the deal with the lack of offline form work?" The reasoning behind removing that ability largely focuses around how the forms are much more linked to the overall system than in the old system, but they are looking into ways reinstate this functionality in the future. No timeline was offered.
"What guidance are you giving to the review teams about what's appropriate in the mid-review communications and what should be submitted in the formal CIR process?" The response here basically stated that they're not terribly certain about this, and are working on it as they go. I'd suggest just asking whatever you can and let them either answer or reject it.