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LEED and WELL Dual Certification Will Be Streamlined

The same third-party certifier, GBCI, already reviews LEED and WELL submittals. So why isn’t dual certification more streamlined? The governing orgs tacitly answer that question with an update.
Paula Melton
November 7, 2022

crazy crosswalks
Photo: Atibordee Kongprepan. License: CC BY-ND 2.0.
Everyone loves a crosswalk. It can help you get safely across tricky territory. But sometimes you have to ask … why is this territory so tricky in the first place?

I’m not actually talking about pedestrians navigating busy roadways right now, even though that’s a topic I’m passionate about. I’m talking about competing certifications, codes, and other frameworks that never seem to fit quite neatly together—a situation that can force hard choices, add totally unnecessary costs, and jeopardize achievement of green building targets.

None of that is as bad as getting hit by a car, but it can sure make your job suck.

Let’s talk about bad infrastructure

This situation also distracts and detracts from hitting the big goals the building industry needs to be pursuing: fighting carbon emissions and endemic injustice, and making our built environment more resilient to climate change.

To make up for the treacherous terrain our weirdly fragmented movement has created, various organizations publish “crosswalks.” Kind of the same way public works departments put paint on pavement to keep vulnerable road users from getting flattened. Crosswalks are important, but on their own, they don’t do a fantastic job of addressing poorly designed infrastructure. It’s just some white lines. People still get hurt.

Now, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) are trying, metaphorically speaking, to get beyond the surface paint and address infrastructure design. The two organizations—which run LEED and WELL, respectively—are promising to streamline dual LEED and WELL certification.

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OK, yes, there’s another “crosswalk”

The first helpful item listed in the USGBC and IWBI press release is, in fact a crosswalk. But this one is a bit different because it’s a “two-way” version that will be put out jointly by the two organizations in early 2023.

Much more important, though, is the “coordinated third-party review.” 

Already, both LEED and WELL submittals get reviewed by Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI)—so you might be wondering why this isn’t already a thing. The press release doesn’t mention that, but at least it’s going to be a thing now, right?

The move, which leaders of the two organizations announced at Greenbuild 2022 in San Francisco, doesn’t have a lot of detail around it yet. We’ll update you when we hear more.

Meanwhile, the organizations also committed to healing some of the fragmentation mentioned above. “Not only are we doing more to bridge LEED and WELL in the market,” said USGBC and GBCI president and CEO Peter Templeton, “we’re also coordinating across shared organizational objectives, such as elevating equity in the built environment, opening up new sources of capital for green and healthy buildings, and bringing a unified voice to our shared priorities.”

This part of the announcement was also short on details, but we’ll be watching for more in the near future.

Date updated: 
Monday, November 7, 2022

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