GBCI: 94% of LEED Reviews are Currently On Time

Tristan Roberts of Environmental Building News* recently wrote an article about how the GBCI is shifting LEED reviews back to the GBCI in an effort to reign in "inconsistencies and poor service that have been frustrating to LEED project teams." I was more interested in a statistic cited later in the article, where GBCI President Peter Templeton "cited internal figures showing that 94% of reviews are currently on time, which is up 45% from the start of 2009." You may remember from earlier posts that the delays in 2008 and 2009 could be pretty long, and I'm glad to see USGBC/GBCI's commitment to improving customer service is paying off!

Cracking the whip!

Cracking the Whip on the LEED Reviewers**

Recent personal experience with LEED reviews confirms that this is true... Normally the initial review appears to be taking most of the 25 business days, but we've found relatively quick turnaround on final reviews.

*Full Disclosure: EBN is owned by parent company BuildingGreen, a sponsor of this site.

**No LEED reviewers were harmed in the making of this post... or even really featured in this picture

Every LEED Certification/Accreditation Fee In One Place

I had a few requests today at work for clarifications on LEED fees, presumably because they're a little hard to find or that they require 3-4 clicks to get to from the main website and my coworkers are lazy (just kidding... please don't fire me!)

expensive hamster

Perhaps an unfair picture for this post, but then again...

As a result, I thought all you LEED power users might appreciate a post that will link directly to fees for every rating system. In each case, fees all versions of the rating system are indicated:

So that's that, and I hope it makes you're life slightly easier... If any of these links break please let me know by leaving a comment!

Learning from the LEED-Homes Platinum 100K House

A few years ago, Chad Ludeman and Nic Darling of Postgreen embarked on a journey "to build a LEED Platinum home for $100,000 in hard construction costs." Lucky for you, they not only succeeded but documented the entire process on their popular 100K House blog!

100K House

Image credit: Postgreen

While their blog covers topics beyond the original project and is definitely a recommended read as a whole, I wanted to highlight some of the posts I found most helpful for LEED APs embarking on a LEED-Homes project... or you could just go directly to the 20 posts under the LEED category:

New readers may not be aware of a similar that that I profiled a over a year and a half ago (has it been that long???), The Lambert LEED Home. Know of other great LEED Homes resources that deserve attention? Let us know by leaving a comment.

SUCCESS! New Official LEED Checklists Unlocked, Added Improvements

Though the primary goal of RealLifeLEED is to better inform project managers and others involved in LEED documentation, every once in awhile I put up a rant about some topic that's bothering me in the hopes of bringing attention to something that needs to be fixed. Fortunately, it looks like the USGBC is listening, as yesterday I received a comment from Courtney Yan at USGBC explaining that:

"In response to feedback we've received from you and others, we recently updated the checklists available at Revisions include the addition of d/c designations, adding a notes section and unlocking the detailed version."

The New Look Of LEED (Checklists)

While I may be appear harsh towards the USGBC/GBCI at times, I do recognize that we all share the same goal of improving the quality and reducing the environmental footprint of our built environment, and they deserve recognition for identifying a problem and working to fix it. I'll leave my previous post featuring links to checklists I created up, but I would encourage you to check out the new UNLOCKED excel checklists provided by the USGBC as well, since they've refined them even further than my editions:

Are there other improvements you think still need to be added? Suggest them here by leaving a comment!

Special Recognition

In my last post I forgot to congratulate the winner of the mini-contest where I asked readers to identify why the hell I featured two people sipping big gulps in a post about daylighting. My new best friend and suspected hipster (single speed... check! v-neck... check! manpurse... check!) The Beastmaster, authors two blogs (one for him and one for his family) and correctly guessed that the picture featured Matt and Kim, a band best known for their single, Daylight! Congrats!

The LEED Size Gap: When a Renovation Is Ineligible for LEED Certification

A few days ago I got a very interesting email from my new best friend Dan Overbey of Browning Day Mullins Deirdorf Architects. He relayed a story about a client who was building a 16,000 sf horizontally attached addition to an existing 25,000 sf building. The client was committed to sustainable design and was very enthusiastic about pursuing LEED. When BDMD was looking at choosing the appropriate LEED system for their scope, they learned that the project appears to be in a strange LEED 'size gap'.

The core of the problem is that limits on registrations for additions on LEED-NC projects are based on the combined footprint of the existing building + the addition, whereas elgibility for including an addition a LEED-EB certification is based only on the footprint of the existing building... and the two are not mutually exclusive. According to the registration walk-through process on the GBCI website, a project is ineligible for LEED-NC if the scope of work is less than 60% of the total project square footage. Additionally, a project is ineligible for current registration for LEED-EB if the scope of the work is greater than 50% of the existing project square footage:

LEED Size Gap

Dan was kind enough to put together a summary of the issue in this convenient paper... Note that it is possible for a horizontal addition to apply for LEED-NC separately from the existing building if (a) the addition is physically distinct from the original (defined as having party walls separating the space along with separate lighting, HVAC, and plumbing systems) AND (b) the addition has a separate address or name than the existing building. This particular project did not meet those requirements, so they went back to the drawing board.

You may have noticed that I used the phase 'ineligible for current registration' when I mentioned LEED-EB above. Ultimately, the project in question is eligible for LEED-EB, but only after the renovation is complete (the whole facility will be 'existing' at that point), meaning they cannot pick up points for good construction practices under the LEED-EB credits MRc3 and MRc9 Facility Alterations and Additions related credits. It also means that their performance periods cannot begin until the addition is complete, causing a long delay between substantial completion and certification.

To the USGBC and GBCI's credit, they have developed fairly effective tools for helping with system selection. Anyone registering a project for LEED 2009 runs into a sort of registration 'wizard' as part of signing up that helps them select the proper system if they're unsure what to use, and running through the same wizard resulted in a LEED-EB suggestion when I answered these questions with this project in mind. Also, the USGBC has released a LEED Rating System Selection Policy that offers additional guidance, though the issue at hand is not discussed in detail.

Making Something Out of Nothing?

I've been trying to get my head around this issue for days now, and I'm trying to figure out if this is a legitimate problem with the way LEED eligibility is determined or whether this specific instance happens to be a rare outlier and that the USGBC can't be blamed for not covering every construction project imaginable... In my mind no LEED system has really been a great fit for partial (in size) but comprehensive (in scope) renovations or additions, and I'm very curious to hear your thoughts about the subject. Are there others out there that had to go back to their client telling them LEED wasn't an option? Is there a need for a system tailored to renovations that's distinct from LEED-CI but more flexible than LEED-NC? Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment!