Do Legacy LEED APs Really Benefit By Upgrading to the 2009 System?

I'm assuming most of you received the email announcement on Tuesday from the GBCI announcing that the new credentialling maintenance program that everyone is so excited about is launching next Monday, August 3rd. Basically this means that v3 LEED APs (and Green Associates) are on the clock for their 30 (or 15) hours of continuing education starting then. For LEED APs accredited under the v2 systems, you have three options:

  • "Become a LEED AP with specialty by passing one of the new specialty examinations; only the specialty part of the exam will be required if testing during your enrollment window. When applying for the exam you will need to sign the disciplinary policy and agree to Credentialing Maintenance Program (CMP). Once you have passed the exam, you mayl use one of the new specialty designations (O&M, BD&C, ID&C) after your name.
  • Become a LEED AP with specialty by enrolling in the new tiered system—i.e. agreeing to the CMP and signing the disciplinary policy—and completing prescriptive CMP for the initial 2-year reporting period. Once you have enrolled, you will use one of the new specialty designations (O&M, BD&C, ID&C) after your name. Enrollment must occur before during your enrollment window.
  • Do nothing; you will be designated a LEED AP without specialty in the LEED Professional Directory."

For the 115,000 or so (haven't seen official reports on final v2 accreditation numbers yet... but I saw this number in a recent article) of you accredited under the v2 sessions I ask the following: Do you really need to go through the trouble of upgrading?

Previous descriptions of what would happen to 'legacy LEED APs' not enrolling in the new system stated that they would be listed under some sort of 'inactive' status, though that doesn't really seem to be the case anymore. From what I can tell, the only consequence from not switching to the new system is that you won't be able to list a "specialty" after the LEED AP on your business card.

Nothing I've read in that original email or the GBCI site indicates that anything else changes - you'll still be listed on the directory and presumably will still be able to claim the IDc2 point for being a LEED AP. I haven't been able to confirm that last point about the IDc2 point, but I've seen nothing stating it's not true either.

By holding onto your non-specialized v2 LEED AP status I see the following benefits:

  • You don't have to pay the GBCI $50 every two years.
  • You don't have to deal with 30 hours of continuing education every two years.
  • You can tell clients you're accreditation is old school, and all these noob suckas ain't got no game no how. Yet you can still claim that you passed an exam in the associated NC, CS, or EB anyway, but can't put it on your card as a 'specialty'.
Old School Chucks

Kickin' it Old School

Maybe I'm crazy, but I'm not going to rush into switching into the new system any time soon. You've got two years to decide anyway, so it seems prudent to see how these things are going to shake out over the next few months before taking on anything more than you have to.

The above is all essentially based on the email I mentioned and FAQ for "LEED APs Without Specialty and Enrollment". It's entirely possible that I may be incorrect about the repercussions of staying a LEED AP under the old system, but I promise to update this post if I find anything to be incorrect. I've seen somewhat conflicting information (see chart) related to costs to remain a Legacy LEED AP out of Building Green, but that's a few months old... Reading this enrollment guide from the GBCI leads me to believe you must pay for enrollment in the maintenance program, not necessarily to keep your existing title.

What do you think about this? Also, any clarification would be appreciated... Please let us know by leaving a comment!

Deconstruction Costs Revealed (aka Sustainable Demolition)

Real Life LEED is back! Hope the withdrawal wasn't too harsh. I'm looking forward to relieving some of what I'm calling 'killer post constipation' (AKA my post ideas backlog... sorry for the mental image), so be sure to come back soon!

A colleague of mine is working on a LEED project where an existing building on site has been determined not worthy of renovation and is slated to be demolished. Being the good environmental stewards we are (and having a desire not to ruin chances of earning MRc2, Construction Waste Management later on), I was tasked with searching for information about the relative costs and considerations between conventional demolition and the more sustainable deconstruction process.

Oscar Hates Deconstruction

Not a deconstruction fan


As reported in a Northeastern study discussed further below, the three primary drivers of the costs and returns on a deconstruction project are (1) labor costs, (2) disposal costs, and (3) the resale or donation value of the salvaged materials. An excellent article out of Remodeling magazine unfortunately determined that "there is no rule of thumb or average square footage cost", as there are too many variables to really make this useful. From articles I've seen across the interwebs, deconstruction premiums can range from a first cost savings to a 200% increase (see the case study on the last page of the Remodeling article), but these premiums are frequently offset by material values. I've seen enough figures citing a 15-30% premium (before salvaged material sales) over conventional demolition costs to feel comfortable giving that figure to a client, with huge non-committal caveats of course.

Commercial Cost Examples

The only commercial cost info I could find was a case study by a Canadian company called Pacific Labour Demolition. On a 6,800 sf office/warehouse building, deconstruction costs showed a 20.9% ($2,128) premium over standard demolition, but that was more than offset by the retail value of the salvaged material at $3,046.

Residential Cost Examples

A recent study out of Northeastern University determined that, at least for residential projects in Massachusetts, "deconstruction costs could be 17-25% higher than demolition costs." For those of you living in Massachusetts and focusing on residential construction, it may be worth shelling out the $31.50 for the full report as it goes on to "identif[y] and rank the parameters affecting these costs."

A study out of the EPA in 1997 (cited here) "estimated the total cost of deconstruction for a 2,000-square foot residence at between $4.50 and $5.40 per square foot, compared to a cost of $3.50 to $5.00 for standard demolition."


In the project my colleague asked about, there is plenty of time to tear down the building before the new one goes up, but it's important to note that it can take substantially more time to deconstruct a building carefully than demolish it with a bulldozer. My friends at the Sustainable Warehouse indicate that "a full [residential] deconstruction project can range from 10-21 days on average, and involves a crew of 2-4 persons." A typical demolition of this scale could be handled in a day or two.

The Non-Profit Model

Everything I knew about deconstruction prior to today's research came from Rebecca O'Brien of The Sustainable Warehouse in Charleston, SC. Since her company is a 501(c)3 non-profit, increased labor costs are offset by tax deductions based on the value of the materials donated to her company. From what I can tell, the non-profit model is common across the nation, though not everywhere. This makes a lot of sense for private owners, as it doesn't require actually selling or reusing materials to recoup costs. Estimated values of products tend to be higher than actual sales prices, meaning a higher tax deduction. This model falls apart if your client is a public entity or someone without any tax liabilities however.

Waste Management Databases

Though I haven't looked, there is probably a similar local index for your state... I suggest googling 'YOUR.STATE waste management database' and seeing what pops up. The SC database is far more inclusive than the national ones above.

Did I miss anything? Let everyone know by leaving a comment!

This is just to say...

by Real Life LEED

I have not
for weeks

and you
are probably
some help

Forgive me
the summer is
and hot

LEED can
go outside

via WCW

This probably sounds familiar to those loyal fans of This American Life... Much to come in the next few weeks, but I'm on a semi-official hiatus for the moment.