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What's behind the proposed changes to the LEED AP credit for LEED 2012?

I spoke with USGBC's Corey Enck to understand the proposal a bit better.
December 8, 2010

Among the key changes coming down the road for LEED, as I recently wrote about (Your Guide to the New Draft of LEED), is a change to the LEED AP credit, formerly IDc2, now dubbed IPc2 (that's "Integrated Process" credit 2).

Up until now, projects have been able to earn a point for having one LEED Accredited Professional (LEED AP) on the project team. If the current proposal were to take effect, that would no longer be enough. First, a LEED AP with a relevant specialty (such as LEED AP BD+C, or LEED AP Homes) must be on the team. In addition, two other team members must also be LEED APs (any specialty—gotta have one, though), or LEED Green Associates (LEED GA).

There has been a lot of rumbling about this change from the ranks of the 100,000+ "legacy" LEED APs who worry that their credential loses value under this proposal.

I spoke with USGBC's Corey Enck to understand the proposal a bit better. Here are some things we discussed.

Unlike changes to other major sections of LEED, like Materials and Resources, which comes under the Materials and Resources Technical Advisory Group (MR-TAG), there is currently no volunteer committee responsible for the ID section of LEED. This proposal came through several other committees, including the LEED Steering Committee, the LEED Market Advisory Committee, and the LEED Technical Committee.

"It's the logical next evolution of the LEED AP credit," says Corey. "It is our most achieved credit." Corey told me that IDc2 has a 100% achievement rate for LEED-NC, and over 99% ("Ninety-nine-point-something percent") for all LEED rating systems. "This draft is really just raising the bar for this credit."

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The intention behind the credit language is to require three individuals. (I had thought the language was ambiguous and could be met with two individuals.)

"I think what the committees focused on was adding the specialty to the requirement, which essentially requires the LEED AP to stay up-to-date with continuous maintenance," Corey said.

Does the proposal devalue the legacy LEED AP credential? Corey's response: "If they choose not to opt in, that LEED AP is still and will always be valid for all existing rating systems that are out right now," including LEED-NC v2.2 and LEED 2009. The lion's share of projects will be in those systems, even for some years after the next draft of LEED is introduced. (I do think USGBC could have done more during the mass LEED AP signup of 2008–9 to predict the change for 2012.)

"Project teams should be aware that it is still a credit," said Corey. "In making these changes we're not requiring any project teams to go out and become a LEED AP with specialty or opt in."

Corey also noted: "This is definitely a first draft of the rating system and we really want feedback from all of our stakeholders. This rating system is projected to be out in two years--that's a lot of time for people to adapt to the new requirements and for people to give us feedback."

Given that the public comment period is open till Jan. 14th, what will you tell USGBC about this proposal? There have been some interesting, detailed proposals over on this LEEDuser forum, so I encourage you to review those ideas and add your two cents. I have one request: if you're opposed to the change on the grounds that it disses legacy LEED APs, what do you say to the argument that this credit needs to be made harder, since LEED is a leadership standard and literally every single LEED-NC project earns the credit?

A modest proposal

Don't hold me to this, but here's my thought: ditch the credit entirely and move on. LEED is getting more complicated—let's actually get rid of a credit that's outdated. The true value of the LEED AP credential has always been the familiarity with LEED and its requirements, and its promotion of integrated design, that a LEED AP  brings to the project. Any LEED AP worth their salt should be able to make the case that they bring plenty of value to a project team—it's redundant to reward this with a credit. It's all the more redundant now that an Integrated Process credit is on the table in the same draft of LEED.

Corey's response to my idea? "We'd be open to a serious modification or deletion of the credit if that's the way people want to go."

Please register your opinion in the comments below!

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