Poor Richard: USGBC - LEED Gambling? | Facility Executive - Creating Intelligent Buildings

Poor Richard asks, "With the recent introduction of LEED 2009 and with major revisions to LEED EB (now EB-OM) and serious structural changes to the LEED Accredited Professional requirements—one must wonder if USGBC is killing the goose that lays their golden eggs."

Poor Richard asks, "With the recent introduction of LEED 2009 and with major revisions to LEED EB (now EB-OM) and serious structural changes to the LEED Accredited Professional requirements—one must wonder if USGBC is killing the goose that lays their golden eggs."

Poor Richard: USGBC – LEED Gambling?

Poor Richard: USGBC - LEED Gambling? | Facility Executive - Creating Intelligent Buildings

With the recent introduction of LEED 2009 and with major revisions to LEED EB (now EB-OM) and serious structural changes to the LEED Accredited Professional requirements—one must wonder if USGBC is killing the goose that lays their golden eggs. 

After thousands of professionals have spend countless hours and tens of millions of dollars “LEED-ing” project teams through the registration and certification process, does the industry really have unlimited resources (or patience) for constantly adapting to expensive and increasingly fluid LEED requirements? 

According to USGBC in a press release dated November 18, 2008, “Coupled with a credit alignment structure designed to create a more elegant and harmonized rating system, LEED 2009 will reset the bar for the certification of high-performance green buildings.”

All these changes sort of beg the question:  If the original LEED rating systems had been properly vetted and represented the “best practices utopia” they claimed to be—why are so many wholesale revisions necessary?  This would be like a casino constantly changing the rules at a poker table to make the game “more elegant and harmonized”.

According to GBCI (the educational wing of USGBC), there are currently over 60,000 LEED Accredited Professionals.  When considering the AP exam costs about $300, study materials are about $500 and a USGBC workshop costs about $400—that represents an investment of well over $1,000 per student (not to mention the percentage that don’t pass their first test—or ever).  Add in the cost for tens of thousands of project registrations & certifications and you don’t have to be a physicist or a hedge fund manager to understand the true definition of GREEN…

Will these USGBC gambles pay off for “the house”?  Or will players simply leave the table in a backlash to constantly changing rules?  

To be determined…

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  1. By the way, in response to my “green capitalist” friend — I believe that ASHRAE was sadly hijacked and disfigured by suppliers in the late 80s and today should be classified as a political action committee.

    They still do valuable things for the industry (std. 62, 55, design guides, etc.) but their political activism is extremely distasteful for real engineers and people of science. They need to clean house, dump their manufacturer puppet masters and return to their technical / scientific roots.

    Poor Richard

  2. Let’s be honest, shall we? The success of LEED is directly proportional to the number of grossly incompetent building managers & contractors and the owners who hired them.

    USGBC (founded and managed by architects, engineers and suppliers who recognized this fact) have done a great job marketing a package of industry “best practices” combined with political correctness and environmental alarmism. Most of the best practices in the rating systems have been followed by the competent building managers and contractors all along. These things are only new to entry level professionals and people in the industry that never bothered to learn how to do their jobs properly.

    Ignoring the financial implications of LEED is intellectually dishonest. The original post asked if the industry had infinite resources and patience to deal with fluid requirements. Only time will tell but in a difficult economy – this seems like a risky gamble for USGBC.

  3. Poor Richard raises a good question. We are pushing companies to go green At the same time we are often ignoring the financial burden that some green technologies place on a facility. The result: CEO’s think that “greenies” are talking composting toilets for the Sears Tower. As a member of ASHRAE, they are changing things all the time. But their changes are more logical. It seems that USGBC/GBCI folks are telling businesses to worry less about profits, despite the obligitory reference to the triple bottome line. Yet the USGBC/GBCI are money machines. I have paid the USGBC and the local chapter about $1,000 over the last year. Do I think it’s worth it? Yes or I wouldn’t do it. But to ignore the cash cow that has developed around the green building industry is hypocritical in my opinion.

  4. Obviously Poor Richard had no clue regarding a changing world, improved technology, and obtaining a carbon neutral status by 2030. The LEED guidelines are not stagment documents that would be forever fixed in stone. They strive to continually improve conditions and lessen the environmental footprint of the built environment. Just as ASHRAE seeks continuous improvement in energy efficiency LEED does the same with the built environment. And a PROFESSIONAL should not be afraid of the requirements for continued education in LEED. Every other professional society, from professional engineers, lawyers, doctors, and interior decorators has the same requirement. Shall we go back to no improvements Poor Richard because they require some work for the PROFESSIONAL who obtains LEED certification?

  5. This is a really lopsided view to see improvement as an admission of greed or bad first product. The USGBC has been successful because they provide what the market wants and needs. The improvements may slow a few applicants down as they learn the details of changes, but overall the goal is to provide the best possible guideline. Success will be determined, again, by the market which is soaring in spite of brutal economic challenges.