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As Ramanujam Leaves, What’s Next for LEED?

Mahesh Ramanujam will step down, and former USGBC Exec Peter Templeton (now head of the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute) will take his place November 1 amid strategic repositioning for USGBC, GBCI, and Arc. Time to weigh in! What do you want for LEED?
Paula Melton
September 8, 2021

In a surprising announcement, Mahesh Ramanujam let the community know yesterday that he will be stepping down as president and CEO of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and its sister organizations GBCI and Arc as of November 1. Peter Templeton, president and CEO of the Cradle to Products Innovation Institute, will step in as interim president and CEO of USGBC amid what USGBC this morning called a “review of its structure, go-to-market strategy and leadership.” Templeton has a long history with the organization, including as a senior vice president and as the first CEO of GBCI.

This is a perfect opportunity for the green building community—that means you!—to let USGBC know where you’d like to see LEED go next. Please weigh in below in the comments.

Date updated: 
Wednesday, September 8, 2021

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Comments

September 21, 2021 - 2:04 pm

To be credibly "green", we need to bring anything that reduces carbon to the forefront in LEED (Energy Performance and anything else that quantifiably reduces carbon -- materials, transport). 5% above baseline for LEED Silver for Energy just doesn't cut it when 100% is possible. Decarbonization is a survival strategy for our species; the dead don't care about daylight and views. Suggestion: Make 50% reduction in carbon emissions over baseline mandatory to get a LEED Silver rating, and 90%+ for Platinum. Everything else is 'nice to have'. If you build it, they will come.

September 21, 2021 - 1:36 pm

Great point, Amanda, there is a huge difference between a LEED review that seeks to award credits and a review that looks for problems, and the inconsistency between reviewers is a big source of frustration! 

Beyond training, it would be worth asking if the review process should change at a higher level...does someone really need to read all that documentation, or can GBCI develop more programs like Better Materials to streamline things? Or could a Proven Provider model with random checks and audits scale up? And continuing education is just as important as upfront training...I remember what a challenge it was to keep up with the industry when my reviewer job was LEED all day every day. 

September 21, 2021 - 1:35 pm

I also agree with the comments regarding the training of the reviewers. The inconsistencies and lack of understanding for meeting the intent rather than word for word by reference guide is really pushing clients away from anything related to GBCI include some of the other rating systems like ParkSmart.

Hope to move towards something better together!

September 21, 2021 - 1:27 pm

Comments from others get an AMEN

September 21, 2021 - 9:48 am

I know it's obvious, but just to make sure our message is heard loud and clear - LEED online needs a lot of improvement!

The other huge priority is reviewer training - there is too much inconsistency between reviewers. And reviewers need to understand in their training that the priority is to meet the intent of the credit, not necessarily to follow every single word in the reference guide.

September 14, 2021 - 11:46 am

...and the comment about embodied carbon. I'm not sure what an embodied carbon preerequisite or heavily weighted credit would look like, exactly, knowing that EC data and products with specific EPDs or recycled content aren't equally available globally. But LEED v4/v4.1 are behind the industry's understanding of how urgent it is to reduce EC and get better data.

Aside from that, I'd love to see LEED move toward a setup like WELL or Green Globes where there is a larger menu of credits to choose from. I often have to rule out a decent number of credits from the beginning because they simply won't work on the site / with the program / in every space that the credit requires. Then projects end up pursuing points that maybe aren't a great fit or don't contribute much to the building's performance, just because they're what's achievable to close that Gold or Silver gap. The pilot credit and innovation catalogs are a great start in expanding what's on the table, and I've often found points there that reward the project team for doing something meaningful, as opposed to doing something because it earns a LEED point. "New construction" is a big category and building more flexibility into the base rating system can be done without diluting the most vital energy/water/carbon credits. 

September 14, 2021 - 11:31 am

Fantastic point JB.  Yes, please bring back credit numbering.  Without the numbers it is so cumbersome to communicate across project teams and with clients.

September 13, 2021 - 12:42 pm

1. Please bring back credit numbering. It's so much easier to stay organized, identify, and maintain consistency across the rating systems and LEED Online.

2. Please allow LEED Online - Arc to permanently archive projects to allow a cleaner, easy to read project page. The simple certified, not certified filter is useless. Each account holder should have the ability to have a permanent multifunction filter. 1. Archive/Hide long completed or dropped projects. 2. Certified 3. Pending Design Application 4. Pending Construction Application 5. Pending Approval 6. Show - Hide individual projects. (1 to 5 or just 6)

September 9, 2021 - 12:15 pm

Agreed - Internet Explorer is the only way I can get the credit forms to work, and it is going away.  LEED Online needs to move to capability in Edge, Firefox or Google.

I also think that USGBC should be less political in that we need to engage everyone to achieve the critical goals of carbon neutrality and net zero, not alienate half of the people we need to reach.

I love LEED Coaches and the way that reviewers have been responsive to questions and discussing credit issues.  It's helpful and puts a friendlier face on the LEED Online process.

Lastly, LEED needs its own clear direction.  When GBCI adds pilot or other credits that almost directly mirror Living Building Challenge Imperatives, while acknowledging that they are important sustainable and regenerative issues to address in our projects, it also appears a bit like USGBC/GBCI as much larger organizations are impinging on a smaller one in an attempt to remain "on top" and most relevant.  It's not a good look.

September 9, 2021 - 12:03 pm

Agreed - Internet Explorer is the only way I can get the credit forms to work, and it is going away.  LEED Online needs to move to capability in Edge, Firefox or Google.

I also think that USGBC should be less political in that we need to engage everyone to achieve the critical goals of carbon neutrality and net zero, not alienate half of the people we need to reach.

I love LEED Coaches and the way that reviewers have been responsive to questions and discussing credit issues.  It's helpful and puts a friendlier face on the LEED Online process.

September 9, 2021 - 8:13 am

I will second (or third) a few prior comments. Updating LEED Online, the primary platform of the USGBC, needs to be the first priority. The current slow, glitchy, and outdated state of LEED Online and the submission process is turning people away from LEED certification and the USGBC. Generally, the USGBC has diversified too much and blurred its mission, and needs to get its core program working optimally as a first step.

September 9, 2021 - 8:15 am

I will second (or third) a few prior comments. 

September 8, 2021 - 8:55 pm

"We suggest you to use Microsoft Internet Explorer or Safari browser. Credit forms may not work properly in this browser."  Seriously?  Microsoft will stop supporting Explorer entirely in less than a year.  It's embarassing.  Start by updating LEED-Online, the primary user interface with the USGBC/GBCI.

September 8, 2021 - 5:00 pm

LEED needs to rebalance its point structure to emphasize embodied carbon in building materials and landscaping- perhaps 25-50% of points should be related to reducing operational and embodied carbon in materials.  Climate change is the most important issue in architecture now and putting embodied carbon counting at the core of LEED would make the certification highly relevant.

September 8, 2021 - 4:23 pm

LEED has done a fabulous job of marketing its programs but has failed miserably at streamlining its certification process for practitioners. The fiasco with Adobe and LEED Online a few years ago turned off many professionals (like me) working behind the scenes to certify projects. We lost countless time trying to figure out what was going on only to have pressure put on us to move to watered-down, buggy platforms like ARC and 4.1, also a huge time-suck. My hope is that LEED can focus more on creating a streamlined, flexible and easy submission process (especially behind the scenes for those of us on the frontlines) that encourages depth, creativity and innovation. 

 

September 8, 2021 - 3:53 pm

Please