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LEED 2012 – 3rd Public Comment – Guide to Key Changes and Forum

LEEDuser provides guidance to the third public comment period on LEED 2012, the next version of the LEED rating systems. This public comment period is scheduled to run from March 1st to March 20th.
March 1, 2012

Update: USGBC has opened a 4th public comment period, with a LEEDuser forum here. Also, check out our webcast that goes behind the scenes on LEED 2012 reference guide and credit form development.

USGBC has opened the third public comment period on LEED 2012, the next version of the LEED rating systems. This public comment period is scheduled to run from March 1st to March 27th (it has been extended from March 20).

As with the first public comment period, which opened in Nov. 2010, and the second public comment period from August 2011,  LEEDuser is here to provide guidance on key changes to LEED 2012 certification, and to provide an open forum for members of the LEED community to understand the changes and weigh in on them.

At USGBC's request, LEEDuser has set up a series of forums on the LEED 2012 draft. These forums are both a chance to register a public comment or comments on the draft, and a place to publicly discuss the draft. Questions and dialogue are welcome and encouraged! (If you prefer to send your comment to USGBC directly, see the link below.)

Please review the new draft of LEED 2012  and share your thoughts with the LEEDuser community and USGBC below!

LEEDuser's guide to key changes in LEED 2012, second comment

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And now, our guide to key changes in the new LEED 2012 draft, starting with Integrated Process.

LEEDuser's Guide to the Integrated Process (IP) Section

The new Integrated Process (IP) section has been overhauled yet again, with noteworthy changes. The main credit here has been changed in name from “Integrated” to Integrative Process, something favored by advocates of the concept. While integrated process is viewed as a done deal—a finished product—an integrative process is viewed as evolving, open-ended, and welcoming of new viewpoints.

If Integrative Process is a bit of a mouthful, it’s a big improvement over the credit naming in the second comment period. In this draft, what had been two process credits have been consolidated into one with three sections: Energy-Related Systems, Water-Related Systems, and Cost Analysis. Each section has a Discovery and an Implementation phase (the second comment draft had Discovery and Implementation as two credits). Beyond this reorganization, the credit has not changed a lot from the previous draft. The credit is expected to provoke “analyses of key systems interrelationships before decisions are made on building form and throughout the design process.”

The LEED Accredited Professional credit has been moved back out of this section into the Innovation section.

Guide to Innovation (IN)

The Innovation credit isn’t significantly changed in the new LEED 2012 draft, although it is allotted 1–6 points rather than 1–5 as in LEED 2009. Even with that increase in emphasis, the Exemplary Performance path is allocated only 1–2 points (down from 1–3), while the Innovation path retains 1–4 points, and a Pilot Credit Library option is given 1–3 points

The LEED Accredited Professional credit (1 point) has been retained, with the specialty credential still required in this draft. In a minor deemphasis of the credit, it has been moved from the Integrated Process section back to the Innovation section, where it can stand outside the base 100-point scale.

What are your comments on LEED 2012 in general, and on the IP and IN sections? Please post them below!


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March 22, 2012 - 2:17 pm


Help me with your example, please. This is one I had trouble deciphering. By the way, I'm looking at BD+C.
The way I read it, the density is relaxed, but it is a max of 4 pts. Diverse uses is max 2 pts for 8 uses. In 2009 you could get all 5 pts for 20 diverse uses. It appears now to truly be an AND credit in order to get the 6 total points. Is that correct ??

March 22, 2012 - 10:02 am


Another thing to consider is that if you look closely at v2012, some of the credits have actually been RELAXED from v2009.

A good example of this is the Surrounding Density and Diverse Uses credit. To achieve 6 pts- in v2012 the density must be 35,000sf/acre, whereas in v2009 the density needed to be 60,000sf/acre. That's a significantly relaxed requirement! Also, in order to achieve 2 additional points - a project needs to have access to 8 Diverse Uses as opposed to 10 in v2009.

USGBC - to my knowledge - has provided no data to back-up their claim that v2012 is significantly greener than v2009 and worth the additional cost and complication.

March 21, 2012 - 7:14 pm

oh, do I hear you with the 'mind numbing'!!!!
The trouble is the act of documenting the process is at its final moment going to be in the hands of GBCI, not the USGBC...(and to some extent, the reference guide.)
Long term consultants in LEED have over the years noticed that 'some' reviewers have resorted to 'credit creep'...(that's year on year requiring more and more supporting data to satisfy any given credit) While we appreciate that GBCI has done its utmost to drive the stake into the ground, the dollar cost of doing those 'mind numbing' calcs that have to keep up with moving goal posts will continue to be flexible if we don't have clear concise and rock steady requirements for satisfactory credit data.

March 21, 2012 - 6:54 pm

To some extent I agree with your comments Barry and I don't think anyone here would argue that the bar should continuously go up and with it go the costs to achieve LEED. However, I think we have to make a clear distinction between asking a client to pay more to implement high performance strategies and asking them to pay more to document the process. Having to raise my fees because of the extra time needed to research innovative ways to help clients reach their goals is one thing, but raising my fees because I have to perform mind-numbing calcuations within a rigid framework for compliance is quite another. I am going to have a hard time explaining to a client that it will now take me 40 hours do document the very same VOC credit that previously only took 20 hours...for less points. I just can't understand how that translates into added value for anyone.

March 21, 2012 - 6:21 pm

I do understand that some of you believe that the new version of LEED will cost more to complete...it's probably very true. But LEED has always cost money to complete, it's the ROI and increase in asset value that counts, not the initial investment.
What we are missing is that we rely too much on the plaque as having value instead of looking at what LEED processes are trying to achieve in a particular building at THAT particular time. A great parallel is BREEAM. BREEAM gives credence to the fact that an 'outstanding' building in 2010 is NOT the same ‘value’ as an 'outstanding' building in 2012....(and yes the cost of providing that 2012 version is far more than the 2010 version). So too should it be for LEED. True 'high performance buildings' need to have a process to constantly review the performance data and reassess themselves (It’s called re-certification) in an effort to prove that they are maintaining their ‘high performance’ characteristics or, hopefully, improving them. Unfortunately too many LEED buildings are frightened to go back and re-certify because they fully realize that they are NOT high performance but are content to hide behind an old plaque. LEED would have done itself a great favor by sun setting plaques at every year-end.
LEED will ALWAYS cost. As energy consumption drops per square foot the methodologies to get that lower number will cost MORE each year as we drive for lower and lower carbon footprints...so too will the cost of providing that consulting data. As consultants our job is perhaps to guide the ownerships and operating teams into the best possible options that we can financially justify in the ROI and increase in asset value, even if the building doesn’t post a plaque right away.

March 21, 2012 - 12:42 pm

I have major clients - including the largest state universities stating point blank they will stop requiring or even pursuing LEED if the 2012 changes remain as is. Part of the issue is the current standards are still not accurately understood by too much of the design community (shame on us), the continous revisions to credit forms and guidance (shame on USGBC), and the sheer insanity of the online system functionality or not (shame on GBCI). Our industries should be allowed to actually catch up with expectations before they move the goal line so substantially and many, many clients agree and will disengage. Others with whom we are finally starting to engage won't stay the course - precisely as Pat Thomas states above. I'm actually leeding an electronic campaign to vote against the new upgrades and my entire company is based on the success of LEED leading the way, oh well...

March 20, 2012 - 4:02 pm

Has anyone else checked the math on the MR Construction Demolition Waste credit?
a) For one point in version 2009 recycling 100 tons of all material required 50% threshold which = 50 tons requirement. For one point in 2012 it depends on which rating system and whether you have demolition or not in your project....but it could be 40%, 50%, or 65% of Heavy materials to achieve 1 point.

So if you only have 50 tons of concrete/asphalt/masonry/metal on your project out of 100 tons than you are only required to recycle 20, 25, 32.5 tons to achieve 1 point. Rarely will you ever have a project with 100% heavy materials so you are always requiring less tonnage than the version 2009. We need to be raising the recycling bar, not lowering it significantly where in less incentivized markets this material will be headed to the landfill.
b) if you don't have heavy materials on your project or are restricted to only a comingled dumpster (without a current system to determine heavy vs. light) you may not pursue this point. Doesn't seem reasonable.
c) 2.5#/sf option 3 has no reyccling/salvage requirement- you earn 2 points for a project that falls under this ratio and apparently you can landfill that 2.5#/sf. One of my past project met this ratio and had 160 tons of waste (we recycled), but other markets the landfill is a less expensive option for disposal. Close this loophole for the final version!
d) there is no current method or a cost effective solution for identifying / tracking heavy materials from light materials in comingled loads.

I believe the revision is due to concerns that the heavy materials were skewing the recycling %. I would recommend making some accomodation for wood structures or tenant improvements so they are not at a disadvantage and raise the recycling % for projects with heavy materials. Keep the same format as not to add costs or prevent projects from participating.

Though honestly, I believe by eliminating ADC and Waste to Energy plants will make it hard to achieve the version 2009 calculation method of 50% minimum threshold even with heavy materials. So if we keep that 50% threshold of all materials, it will add the necessary vigor to the rating system. *Note that technically WTE plants are not eliminated, but I understand that no plant in the USA can meet these requirements (governmental regulation issues), so in effect these plants that process hog fuel (wood waste) have been eliminated.

March 20, 2012 - 3:04 pm

LEEDuser has gotten word that USGBC has extende the third public comment period for LEED 2012 to March 27th. So, keep on commenting! There are some tremendous discussions here already that deserve some time -- and there are issues that have received scant attention so far. We encourage you to dive in if you haven't yet done so.

March 20, 2012 - 3:15 pm

Good news...my first comment was that there was not enough time to comment on the level of changes in the system, whether it was from comment version 2 to 3 or from 2009 to the present version.

March 20, 2012 - 2:26 pm

Remember when USGBC granted each project two free CIRs? I would strongly encourage GBCI to allow for this at least for projects that register in the first year of 2012's use, or for the first x number of registered projects.

March 21, 2012 - 11:12 am


I agree with this concept. As we saw with the rollout of 2009, there were many grey areas that needed further refinement and definition. These showed up many months later in the form of addendum to the rating system. Allowing at least one free CIR in say, 2013, would go along way to appeasing the design teams working throught 2012 for the first time.

March 19, 2012 - 4:18 pm


I've read several comments that I would agree with and would like to say the same thing, but the original comment is adequate or even better than my own ideas. Does it help if I click the thumbs up button? Does USGBC take these into account in any way? Or do I need to register a unique comment, either here or on their website, for my voice to be heard?


March 19, 2012 - 7:32 pm

Thanks, I'm happy to have had some effect finally.

Glad to hear some comments showed up. I had a list of about 10 items in the 2nd public draft discussion regarding SSc8 on this site that I don't see incorporated into their comment/response file. I was just speaking from personal experience.

March 19, 2012 - 6:17 pm

Yes, I thought of you when I saw that! Good move, I think.

Well, I'm not sure what to say about all the comments showing up, except that I want to reassure anyone on the forum reading this that the comments here are fully considered by USGBC.

March 19, 2012 - 5:51 pm

Tristan, the item I was looking for in the Public Comment responses was about national flag uplighting regarding SSc8 compliance. I've talked about it a lot in various pages on this site and while there's no mention of it in the large excel file on USGBC's website I see that they have finally added it into this 3rd draft.

March 19, 2012 - 5:47 pm

Bill, to the contrary, I have seen LEEDuser comments show up on the list of comments and responses—as they should.

All comments here are submitted by LEEDuser to USGBC with a reference included to this forum. I do not know USGBC's internal calculus relative to receiving a similar comment multiple times, or visiting the LEEDuser forum and giving a thumbs up—your guess is as good as mine.

March 19, 2012 - 5:41 pm

I like the Shawshank Redemption analogy. LEED User comments are supposedly taken as official comments to USGBC. I'd like to hear from Tristan and Nadav comment on this.

March 19, 2012 - 6:44 pm

I've seen no indication that a Thumbs up on a comment has any influence on USGBC actions.

While I have seen comments from this forum get incorporated into Credit revisions they do not show up in the list of Public Comments and Responses.

If you agree with what someone says you can thumbs up their comment and then make a Public Comment on the USGBC site. Even if you just copy paste someone else's comment. It seems repetition and persistence are the most likely way to make changes in LEED. I've seen Credits where the typical response for years was 'not all projects qualify for this Credit' and now I'm seeing exceptions being added to these Credits just so these projects can earn the Credit.

Think of the movie Shawshank Redemption. Andy wrote a letter every week to the State asking for funding for a library in the prison. After years and years of nothing he finally gets a check for the books and asked to stop writing letters. His take away was that he would have gotten a faster response if he wrote two letters a week.

March 19, 2012 - 12:05 pm

What time does comment period close? Is it Tuesday at midnight?


March 19, 2012 - 4:17 pm

It's typically been midnight Pacific time zone.

March 19, 2012 - 4:15 pm

Melissa, if USGBC doesn't give a time then I would assume midnight, yes.

March 18, 2012 - 8:03 pm

Is anyone else concerned about the structure of this draft, in that the Integrative Process credit is floating off by itself, outside of any category? Human beings can probably handle that concept, but automated systems relying on data structures will struggle with it. In fact, most will probably have to invent their own category to contain this credit, even if they have to call it the "unclassified credits" category.

Here in LEEDuser, for example, our navigation structure depends on choosing a rating system, then a category, then a credit. Without a category, I don't know how we would lead users to the credit. I strongly encourage USGBC to go ahead and establish the category, even if it only contains one credit, just so everyone uses the same category name.

March 20, 2012 - 4:55 pm

Yes, Melissa, I found the Integrative Process credit in the "general" section. USGBC's comments application had exactly the problem I described--it had to invent a category for this credit.

March 20, 2012 - 3:23 pm

This is reflected in the LEED Public Drafts: Comments on the USGBC website - there is no place to comment on the Integrative Process credit! Are we supposed to comment on the Integrative Process credit and prerequisite in the "General" section? Or maybe in the "Innovation" section?

March 19, 2012 - 8:56 pm

Agreed! I believe this is a vestige of some out-of-date thinking of how credits would be organized in the new version, and as someone who worked on this credit, I would really love to see it in a category. Better to have it in the Innovation category than in no category at all!

March 16, 2012 - 5:20 pm

For BD+C:
What do they mean by "cascading" in the phrase - "demonstrate how at least one on-site non-potable water supply source was utilized in cascading ways to reduce the burden on municipal supply"?

For ID+C:
The BD+C Integrative Process credit has been re-worked very awkwardly/problematically into the ID+C Integrative Process credit. The ID+C credit needs a rehaul specific to ID+C. After many in depth read-throughs, it appears that what the ID+C credit is asking for is:

1.) Show an analysis of how the project "site/building" was chosen.

ONCE THIS SITE HAS BEEN CHOSEN [this crucial line is missing]

2.) Analyze 2 separate sets of energy-related systems for the space that has been chosen. [NOTE - they should delete the section on Basic Envelope Attributes and "elimination/down-sizing of building systems because CI projects typically have no control over these items]


3.)Analyze and document Option 1 / Option 2

An overall comment for this credit is that the separation of Discovery / Implementation is confusing. The language should be simplified. A possible way to simplify is to say - "analyze and document the following outlined process:" ....and then list what they want the team to do.

I hope this "translation" helps out other readers! I find it very frustrating the amount of time we're spending "translating" what on earth this stuff means because it's so poorly written.

March 18, 2012 - 7:56 pm

Hi Melissa,

The reference to "cascading" water uses refers to the practice of using the same water for multiple functions in a series of descending purity requirements, such as washing hands -> flushing toilets, or showers -> landscape irrigation.

March 16, 2012 - 4:58 pm

Why is this prerequisite only for Healthcare?

March 21, 2012 - 12:49 pm

Susann I also agree - LEED shouldn't get into the business of prescribing means and methods for the design process any more than they do it for construciton. Project teams should be really resisting this even using the liability issue as a lever just as the contractors do.

March 20, 2012 - 4:38 pm

Susann, I totally agree. These requirements, however, are extremely specific. I have several very well integrated deep green healthcare projects that with this prereq would have been kept out of the LEED world. Very frustrating.

I commented on this several times during the LEED HC review process and never received what I felt was an appropriate response. I'm not optimistic in this round either.

March 20, 2012 - 3:42 pm

I'm not a big fan of restricting what exactly is considered an integrative process since it will prohibit a lot of projects from using LEED, because the decision are made to late.
However I understand the move to demand more especially for Health Care projects. For a very simple reason, a clinic's operations and maintenance costs for approx. 4 years equal its construction costs. So to consider energy and resource saving measures early on is particularly important and should be a no brainer for environmental and economical reasons.

March 19, 2012 - 4:36 pm

Alternatively, I might ask why this is a prereq for healthcare.

I've done lots of healthcare projects - mostly LEED, a few not (GGHC-focused) - and while meeting the requirements in this prereq can certainly help, they are not absolutely necessary to achieve a great green building. It seems shortsighted to prohibit deep green projects from pursuing LEED if, for example, their eco charrette was only a half day and not a full day. I don't think that this prereq meets the original intent of LEED prereqs -- that if a project doesn't meet this set of requirements, then it can't be considered a green building.

March 16, 2012 - 3:18 pm

While I think there is merit to many of the changes for 2012, I have an underlying concern about the usability of some of the credits. I thought that one of the goals of this version was to streamline documentation and make it more user-friendly to project teams? Many of the credits appear to do the opposite - the low emitting materials credit for example appears to require significantly more time and effort to document while yielding less points. I know that this credit has been discussed at length so I only mention it as an example, but I just can't see how these changes do much to benefit performance or improve the integrity of the credit. Add to this the other credits that have become more documentation or calculation-intensive and you have to start thinking about how this affects your fees. I can understand asking a client to pay more to reach their desired certification threshold because the bar has been raised in terms of building performance and material selection, but it is going to be tough to also ask them to pay a premium to have their strategies documented within this unnecessarily complicated framework. I am concerned that because of this, we are going to see a lot more clients preferring to "design to LEED" but not submit - as we all know, very few of these projects actually live up to those standards.

I know as we are closing in on the end of the 3rd comment period we are unlikely to see major changes in the credit structures, but I am wondering if other people are feeling this general concern as well? I don't see a lot of discussion about it - has everyone just accepted it or is it the elephant in the room?

May 9, 2012 - 2:31 pm

I agree with Barry WRT BD&C should be the gateway to the core EB standard. In 2003, or thereabouts, Paul von Paumgartten and I said as much. The reason LEED did and continues to succeed is that it was less concerned with impressing the building science geeks-and I say that as one who fervently believes in the field-and more concerned with staying close enough to the market to be implementable and relevant. Although EBOM remains close enough within the basic realm of market feasibility, the 2012 version of BD&C has gone way off the reservation in my opinion. All of a sudden, LEED is no longer attractive to large real estate portfolio holders who are facing wildly disparate standards, when the goal of 2012 should be to further simplify and converge, not raise the 'entry standard' so high that only the Green Building Challenge types want to play. In new construction, LEED is over 20% of the new market and many of the problems of verification of earlier projects are being rectified by closer examination of the modeling and commissioning. This indicates that we're getting closer to where we want, but as Pam indicates we are still working out the kinks of 2009 & now 2012 is considering implementing significantly greater kinks in unproven fields of LCA (whatever the heck that means) and a whole host of more complex evaluation and calculations but with dubious environmental benefit. 100 percent of nothing is nothing and that understanding is what led to LEED's dominance of the market. However, even in EBOM, regardless of it's larger position in the LEED pantheon has barely scratched the EB market, indicating that it is about as much as the market can currently handle. To increase the stringency significantly would be a serious mistake in my opinion.

May 9, 2012 - 1:49 pm

Interesting that this should surface:

LEED 2012: The USGBC Adds Teeth, Real-Time Reporting To Its Green Building Ratings


........there has been way too little transparency about how new buildings with high LEED scores actually perform. So, while the marketing excitement of a platinum rating may score some points, it can hit a dead end under scrutiny. Some engineers, for instance, complained that LEED points were too easy to rack up in an incoherent building: Many cited the fact that a bike rack earned points in a building that might have a faulty boiler. And landlords faced no penalty if they declined make improvements or even use the technology they installed once given a rating by LEED. At its weakest, a LEED certification amounted to a one-time endorsement of a building’s design, with no follow-up.

May 9, 2012 - 1:45 pm

You appear to work mostly in LEED EB and therefore may not be as aware of the dramatic changes, increased complexity and brain damage that are being proposed in LEED 2012 BD&C and ID&C. Most of the concerned comments people are making are not recommending dumbing anything down, just making the new standard reasonable, accessible, cost effective and simple to document (a publicly stated goal of the USGBC.)

It would also be important that a new standard is not released again without fully vetting any new approaches, testing the forms and ensuring that all references are checked and ready for primetime.

The USGBC should slow things down and allow the time to do this correctly, which is what many of us fervently hope is being discussed internally at the USGBC right now.

May 9, 2012 - 12:13 pm

Bill, Unfortunately you and I are 180 degrees apart as I believe that LEED should continue to be as stringent as possible so that when a plaque finally is fitted to be building is represents the best that there is and not some wishy washy compromise. So now that I’ve raised your blood pressure…lets step back and look at the ‘market catching up’ bit and go back to 2002.
In 2002 USGBC created LEED EB and in late 2003 the first buildings running through that pilot started getting the plaques on ..the first four were all single tenant commercial space (National Geographic, Abobe, etc) because at that time we could only get our heads around that EB fitted single tenant/office. However the 5th building was Moss Landing Marine Lab, an educational university building, multi use (I worked with Kevin Hydes and KEEN Engineering…now Integral…to push the marketplace and thank goodness they were on board) so already at that time we were looking at expanding the parameters of LEED EB. Fast forward 10 years…the diversity of buildings in EB is almost at the stage that ANY BUILDING can complete EB, multi tenant office (simple), banks, prisons, courthouses, multiple buildings on a campus, blocks of buildings, data centers (we’ve just completed the worlds first LEED EB data centre). EB has expanded into LEED volume, multiple, mixed use…we can almost get any building into the system…all the EB consultants out there are creating the market transformation every day (I believe that USGBC now states that EB is by far the biggest LEED component there is).
LEED EB is the most important rating system that USGBC has…it’s rapidly changing the way the buildings report their high performance status the marketplace. Are EB Buildings efficient?.yes..here’s the energy data. Are they water efficient?.yes..here’s the water data. Are they reducing the impacts of transportation and waste disposal…yes..here’s the data.
I firmly reject the siren call that we dumb down credits to make it easier to ‘get buildings into LEED’…EB doesn’t need the credits dumbed down…all EB consultants are working flat out to keep up with the backlog of work. What we need is a period of status quo so that the market CAN catch up. The last thing we need are radical changes to LEED that require a reset in the educational piece that has to be put in front of the marketplace…we can’t sell a product with any degree of clarity if the colour, shape, and interior workings of that product keep altering.
If USGBC are hell bent on making these radical changes…then we need a LOOOng period of transition…a year perhaps, so that we can test drive v4 in parallel with v3 and be party to an open discussion of the plus and minus and comparison between the two versions.

May 9, 2012 - 11:52 am

Here here.

May 9, 2012 - 8:32 am

I see two separate debates going on in LEED right now and unfortunately they keep getting confused.

1. Should LEED focus on market transformation or on setting an ideal threshold that recognizes what a Green building should be?

2. Should LEED keep getting more complex or is it possible to simplify the language without compromising its integrity.

When you say "dumb it down" I think it is a confusion of these two items. I think 80% of the current frustration is with the second item. It's too complex and there is too much time and money involved in paperwork for little benefit. I would very much like it simplified but I reject the "dumb it down" phrase. I've been pushing LEED for years to follow the Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS) design strategy. I'd even count old Albert Einstein in this camp. “If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough”.

I'm not trying to lower the standards of LEED. I'm trying to make a tool that is simple to use and very strong. Then as the market catches up it's just a simple tweak of a number to raise the bar further rather than a complete overhaul of the credit and doubling the paperwork.

May 8, 2012 - 7:16 pm

Hi Barry,
The big difference to me with your presidential analogy is that the USGBC is a consensus based organization. I'm actually supposed to be able to have a say in the system I'm voting on, not just vote for the lesser of two evils presented to me.

I agree that not every building should get LEED and that not every consultant is good at applying LEED. And frankly nothing is wrong with that. But that points to the very thing that leads to this debate. Differentiation, the idea that one building is better than other buildings by virtue of its sustainability, is a market based concept.

LEED is not just about sustainability and doing the right thing. If it was, we wouldn't need a rigorous verification process and a plaque. It would just be understood that's how we design and construct buildings. And it's not just about being rich enough to incorporate whatever you want regardless of practical realities and return on investment.

The entire context of LEED is within the construction industry marketplace, and the success of LEED is measured by its adoption in that marketplace. I see no compelling reason to disincentivize continued and future adoption because of a perception that the bar needs to be raised to some subjective level on some subjective timetable.

As a somewhat jaded consultant, I tend to think that adoption and penetration of sustainable measures is huge, that everyone diverts construction waste and uses low flow fixtures and pays attention to VOCs. That's what I see every day in my reality in the Pacific Northwest. But I am constantly reminded that we are early adopters, representing a drop in the bucket even now.

Why take one step forward and two steps back when all we need to do is slow down and take some time to consolidate the 2009 rating system advances we've already made?

May 8, 2012 - 6:45 pm

Michelle. Perhaps you could clarify a little. You say "As our ability to do that is diminished,"...but I fail to see that difference. A great analogy would be "Whoever gets into the White House, we have to work with them". We can't checkout...none of us can, we're in this 'LEED thing' to the bitter end. Yes the current v4 (large sucking sound) but the majority of those in then market can only voice their concerns, suggest changes and cross fingers ...otherwise what? Vote NO!. Not ever building will get LEED, not every building deserves LEED, not every consultant has the 'chops' to make the system...however much we hate it...work for the client. Unfortunately the divisions within LEED itself are beginning to show. There are two camps…1. LEED is too difficult and needs to be simplified. (That’s easy..dumb it down and rename it…oh..that’s Green Globes)…2. Keep the bar up…stop trying to get every darn building into the process and admit that the LEED plaque should stand for something…the best buildings in the nation.

May 8, 2012 - 6:28 pm

LEED 2012 Ready or Not
I posted this originally in response to a Karen Joslin post and was asked to move it to this forum.

I hear your frustration in your posts and first and foremost let me say, that you are not alone out there. We also are LEED consultants. Helping project teams to implement sustainable measures in practical ways and document them to GBCI satisfaction is what we do every day. And it's getting harder every day to understand the requirements sufficiently to educate and advise our teams, while satisfying the ever increasing demands and costs of documentation.

We have also posted our concerns about rating systems and requirements that are moving targets, about IT modifications that run ahead of reference documents, about increasingly onerous and uncited documentation requirements, about inconsistencies in review comments, and an overall cultural shift in GBCI/USGBC. And we've also heard indications from others that they are not willing to speak too loudly or publically about some of these things, or that they feel there is no accountability for these issues anyway.

The blog posts I see suggest that LEED users are divided into two primary groups - occasional users and experienced consultants. The response to LEED 2012 is the first time that I've felt like I've heard a strong outcry from the consultant group. Those of us who have years of experience working with LEED/USGBC/GBCI and have been through the evolution of all the rating systems so far do have a valuable perspective on LEED in the marketplace.

We, too, are concerned about the balloting process for 2012. We, too, are concerned this system is too much too soon. We have many of the same concerns you voiced above about transparency and whether No votes will have any impact on this rollout should we cast them. How can this organization claim to be a consensus-based membership organization celebtrating transparency and accountability when few of us members know how decisions are really made or feel like we are part of them?

The vast majority of our clients pursue LEED primarily because there is someone like us out there who can help them understand and manage the process in a practical cost effective way. As our ability to do that is diminished, so is the likelihood that they will consider LEED pursuit feasible.

Unless or until USGBC/GBCI can establish a balance of concern between actual implementation and application of the measures they are busy conceiving in the real world and elevated rating systems and documentation standards, we will continue to struggle to keep up and fear the rapidly approaching point of diminishing return with our clients

March 21, 2012 - 8:28 pm

I am especially concerned about the construction trades and managers that have been slowly getting a handle on what they need to do without constant hand holding. To change materials documentation so dramatically and to increase the complexity of the tracking is very bad news for their willing and continued participation and for our ability to broaden the base.

March 21, 2012 - 2:38 pm

Speaking as both an owner rep and project administrator the added complexity in the construction phase credits such as the materials and IAQ will make me think twice about the cost/benefit of pursing them. This is a shame as the most tangible and easily understood green building elements for visitors and occupants are those you can see and touch.

Regardless of how integrated my specifications are, the contractor pushback and effective compliance with these new requirements will be a constant battle with endless resubmittals with a corresponding increase in documentation fees.

March 21, 2012 - 1:03 pm

Two thoughts on everything above - I agree whole heartedly that the new credit definitions and elements force the whole documentation picture into a deeper, more specialzed spheres using obscure federal databases and all and in short it is ridiculous to expect success.

But as a 100% LEED Manager all day every day I do not agree with the prevailing approach from many architects and consultants that my role is to prepare the documentation. The LEED process was established to force everyone up and down the design AND construction team ladder to be knowledgeable and to participate in the strategies. LEED Material submittals are a good case where they are separate from and in addition to standard product submittals, but the contractors MUST be required to obtain them - complete and accurately - from their subs and suppliers as they do absolutely everything else. They should not be passing them through until they are right.

Unfortunately I hear often that there is some huge cost to their efforts, but in reality it's only when either the specifications were not crystal clear - maybe a boilerplate spec package was used and not adequately customized, or they didn't try to understand what the submittal was supposed to be and the team accepts them in poor conidtion, Or both!

We all need to communicate the documentation requirements to prospective team members - including the owners and consstructors - and place the same deliverable requirements on them, using payment approvals in every possible case. And this means the entire design team needs to be versed in these requirements, not just the LEED specialist within a larger firm. Fire code, ADA, and ASHRAE reqs are part of every qualified design architect and engineer basic knowledge and LEED should be no different - that's the point of the exercize after all.

But in the end the fast tracked, constant changes to LEED requirements makes it nearly impossible to get there and I think USGBC needs to hear this from all of you designers out there! You'd like to get deep penetration of basic LEED knowledge throughout your disciplines, but until we get them to stop moving the target it can't be expected to happen, argh...

March 21, 2012 - 11:55 am

Robert, wow, that's amazing. I don't see how Scott could have said something like that; even the prior drafts of 2012 were considerably more documentation heavy than 2009, though I think this one is even moreso. Software is going to have a limited impact on most of this stuff, at least in the first 1-3 years.

March 21, 2012 - 11:32 am

At Greenbuild in Toronto, the one overarching comment I kept hearing from Scott Horst on down at the Master Series Sessions was that the LEED certification process was too hard and burdensome, and this was in reference to V3. The promise was and the expectation given was that LEED 2012 would alleviate this. Working as a LEED Consultant every day, I keeping asking myself how I am going to explain to clients why the cost of certification has gone up so much. One of the solutions I heard put forth was "LEED automation". I agree that these tools will be great once they become built to handle real world projects. They are not available today (except to document one or two credits) and don not look like they will be available for several years. I echo the comments above in that I believe we will see a diminished role for LEED and the USGBC as owners, developers and government agencies look for other ways to build sustainably without incurring the added burden LEED is putting on them.

March 20, 2012 - 3:46 pm

Back in the first draft of public comments was this item. Too bad general comments are so often politely dismissed by USGBC.

"This version of LEED has increased in length by another 70% over v2009. The complexity of these credits is silly. It's worst than dealing with the government. All you're doing is adding cost to building owners and making the design professionals look dumb for not being able to tell the owner which credits can be earned with any certainty. Keep all the points you want, but trim this document back down to around 100 pages and simplify each of the credits."

March 20, 2012 - 3:38 pm

Overall, we believe that there are too many changes in the BD&C standard for one version change. This level of change will not only disrupt the design community, but also the project certification review process.

ETI believes that the BD&C standard principally should be a gateway for the EBOM standard as the core standard of LEED. As such, BD&C should not be overly onerous and prescriptive. For many of the credits and in particular many of the newly added requirements (contained in our credit-by-credit comments) most of the benefits can be achieved with far less complex and less expensive measures.

In addition to adding implementation cost with relatively marginal returns, the cost of documenting the new credits will be significant due to the steep learning curve required.

March 20, 2012 - 2:24 pm

Well said Julie! The only thing I would question is whether or not our fees will *only* double. At least in the beginning -- until the processes are systematized and we have a good sense of what GBCI will require -- I expect this to be higher.

I definitely expect LEED to lose market share, at least for a period of time.