LEED and “certifiable”

This is my perspective on some legislative language in NYS. I wrote this in early 2009, and it still applies to green building goal setting.

Being "certifiable" means you have already committed to doing the work, paying design professionals, ensuring the work is done properly (through documentation, energy modeling, commissioning, etc). The only reason the “certifiable” language doesn’t work in a law is that in the real world, people claim they are doing this good stuff, but the goals slip during the process because no one is tracking and documenting and paying attention, even though they have committed to doing these good things. This is not usually an intended misrepresentation, just a fact of a process that is very complex. To ensure the intended quality is achieved, there must be a process that includes a proof mechanism such as the USGBC third party review or the Green Globes submission and project assessment.

For a submission for LEED certification you need to pay "additional" money for the review process (a typical 20,000 sf building would cost $3,150 for USGBC members for a LEED rating submission/review. Anything under 50,000 sf would be this cost in LEED system, and in Green Globes it looks to be $8,000). In some cases there may be additional soft costs for loading info into the templates of LEED or Green Globes or perhaps a cost for a second energy model. I do not know these costs off hand, but they should not greatly affect this discussion.

If anyone claims that a LEED certified building costs more than a certifiable building (and by more I mean more than the cost listed above for a 20,000 sf building and the incidental energy modeling costs if any)* then they really are not being truthful about the building being “certifiable”.

My friend uses this (rather flip, but interesting) example: A doctor says he’ll remove your brain tumor and his costs are less than all other doctors. By the way, he does not have a license but he did take all the classes and he performed complete internships, he just never bothered to take the board exams because they cost too much. Is he a doctor?

This is a Green Building Construction Act – therefore we need proof of the quality of the buildings covered by this Act in order to truthfully say we are getting the Green Buildings we expect.


· *Please note that a building of 50,000 sf up to 500,000 sf has a LEED submission/review cost based on a sf charge. Anything above 500,000 sf will cost $28,700 for registration and submission/review process. That is the highest USGBC fee. I used a standard 20,000 sf building for the costs in the text above.

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