LEED ND Fees Cost HOW Much?!?!?


LEED ND Project Certification Rates Effective April 28, 2010

LEED ND Project Application Review Fees
SLL Prerequisite Review $2,250 (flat fee)
Expedited SLL Prerequisite Review $5,000
Initial Stage Review Fees
For Projects under 320 Acres $18,000for the first 20 acres $350 for each additional acre
For Projects 320 Acres or More $123,000 (flat fee)
Expedited Review $25,000
Subsequent Stage Review Fees
For Projects under 320 acres $10,000 for the first 20 acres $350 for each additional acre
For Projects 320 acres or More $115,000 (flat fee)
Expedited Subsequent Stage Review $15,000
Additional Fees
CIRs $220 each
Appeal Review $500 per credit
Expedited Appeal Review $1,000 per credit

I found this out from Jeff Baxter of the Noisette Company. He gave an excellent presentation at SustainSC 2010 (which I'm currently pressuring them to post online) profiling the company's experience with getting the Navy Yard, a 340 acre mixed use redevelopment of a former Navy base, through the LEED ND Pilot system.

As a pilot project, they paid substantially less than they would have needed to under the current system. It would have cost $241,750 to reach the level of certification they have achieved so far (Stage 2 certification... more on that in a later post), and if they were to pursue Stage 3 certification that cost would climb to $356,750! Even the smallest development faces a minimum of $39,500 in fees to complete Stage 3 certification. It's no surprise the USGBC included a free 'introductory call' service as part of their registration process and a $2,250 prerequisite review option that allows developers to check to ensure their site meets the base requirements before having to pony up for the more extensive Stage 1 review.

People familiar with LEED certification fees at the presentation were surprised at the cost, especially when you consider the fact that the documentation required for submission is not that much different in volume or complexity from a typical LEED NC or CS project.

On the other hand, one attendee suggested that if you broke this down to cost per building or cost per square foot the results are likely to show a lower overall cost than if a developer certified each building independently. I would suspect that everything within the development would earn the same marketing cachet as an individually certified facility by virtue of its association with the larger development, so this could possibly end up as a better value than previous options.

As you might suspect, I'm very interested to hear reader reactions to these fees and your thoughts on potential implications... Is this cost justified? Are the costs too high to allow for significant market-share, or will developers see the benefits to be large enough to warrant the investment? Truthfully... I don't really know!


tim said...

We'd been working on a very small project that the client wanted to pursue ND on, even though it wasn't open for registration when we started design. These fees come as a pretty nasty surprise, because there wasn't anything on USGBC's website to indicate it would be nearly this much.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget that LEED-ND GIB prerequisite 1 requires at least one LEED certified building within the project, which brings more additional fees. Its a shame the cost of this certification is so high because its a great rating system but financially out of reach for many towns and developers.

a_a_nelson said...

I am currently working on a development with 8-10 buildings. With no earlier indication from the USGBC that ND fees would be so high, we are now in a tricky spot where the contract states ND Certification but the expense contingency doesn't come close to the minimum $32,250 it will cost in GBCI fees alone.

I can see the strategic benefit for the GBCI in setting costs higher, but maybe a tiered pricing structure for smaller projects. The starting price point is for any project up to 20 acres, yet I feel smaller projects can have a great influence on city planning & neighborhoods - especially in urban environments where 20 acre plots can be very rare.

Sergio Salazar said...

wow... those rates are outrages to say the least... I took a LEED GA prep class like 2 or 3 months ago and have been procrastinating the test =/ hmmm... that being said... the more I learn about LEED the more it disappoints me... although it's a decent rating system is not reinventing the wheel so to speak for them to justify their ridiculous rates... Like a_a_nelson said smaller projects are in my opinion more important!!! I mean with this economy who is doing big developments anyway... again in the class it was made clear to me that LEED is about the rating system it self rather than sustainable practices, most of their definitions, standards and why not are based on other regulations so the system is more a compendium... so again why the disproportioned fees?? In my humble opinion I think as the construction community we should think twice before just jumping on board with LEED... there to many loose ends that need to be address before this system becomes mandatory... I would love to continue a discussion in this sense because it seems everyone is just doing it without giving it a second glance... thanks for such a good blog

Macko said...

Rates are phenomenally expensive - that points to the fact that there are major inefficiencies both at GBCI and USGBC. I'm saddened by that fact that I see this pricing matrix to be the "beginning of the end..."

Artful Dodger said...

I have very little familiarity with the LEED-ND minimum project requirements, documentation levels, etc so I don't feel right speculating.

Having said that, it seems like another one of those ready-fire-aim situations. Their backlog of projects over the last couple of years and the hour-long apology for LEED-Online at Greenbuild last year seem to show that speed-to-market is more important. This seems like more of the same without adequate planning.

Can't these fees be passed on to tenants? Renting a LEED certified anything would have to be a premium over regular rates.

Have there been any studies showing added value from a LEED-ND project? I've read several market studies showing the added stability and value to green homes though they didn't specify LEED certified homes.

Jason said...

I'm actually considering doing a masters thesis that researches the added value of site planning tools such as LEED-ND, the Sustainable Sites Initiative, and Geodesign. I'd possibly create a set of metrics for developers, architects, engineers, etc. If any of you have suggestions or information regarding this subject I would be grateful.