Hi Tristan Roberts-
With the development and release of LEED 2012 in Nov. this year, i would like to know if the LEED GA&LEED AP exam will have significant changes and evolution, when and how?
Update: LEEDuser's interview with Sarah Alexander, with your questions, has been posted below.
If you had five minutes with the Director of LEED Certification for the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI), what would you want to talk with her about? What questions would you ask or what feedback would you give?
I recently was on the phone with Sarah Alexander, who has that very title at GBCI, and mentioned that our members might have quite a few questions for her. She offered to take anything we could throw at her, with the help of her staff.
So, LEED users—please post any comments or questions for Sarah below. We will refer them to her, along with our own questions, and post a full interview here later. If you prefer your question or comment to be more anonymous, you can feel free to submit it through our contact form, which comes directly to me. We do reserve the right to filter out any inappropriate questions, and to interpret any questions that seem unclear.
GBCI is currently required to sign the agency form in relation to the provision therein releasing the Agent from liability upon demonstration of authority. GBCI is currently reviewing its legal documents and associated processes with the intention of streamlining these aspects of the LEED-certification program—stay tuned!
Project teams are held to the technical requirements of the rating system in place at the time of registration (Rating System language & requirements, LEED Interpretations, Errata and Addenda etc.). If a reviewer is referencing an addendum that was posted after the project team has registered, this should only be as an educational comment for the project team’s information. In certain instances, the addenda/LEED Interpretation may be to the project team’s benefit.
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If a project team believes that a reviewer has inappropriately referenced guidance documentation published after the project’s registration date, please do bring that to our attention (GBCI Certification Contact Us page). Occasionally, USGBC will publish clarifications of credit requirements (for example LEED-CI EAc1.3) and these apply to all projects regardless of registration date as they are not considered to be a change to existing requirements, rather they are simply further explaining those requirements.
We passed this question along to our colleagues within the LEED Online development team at USGBC who are responsible for LEED Online; they have confirmed that LEED 2012 will be built upon the same LEED Online v3 software platform. The development team is leveraging all the work done to-date, to further streamline processes and improve the user experience.
They further comment that although technology glitches as introduced in Adobe 10.1.2 update are beyond our organization’s control, they are proactively testing LEED Online for all known versions of browsers, plug-ins and tools to verify stability and support. USGBC’s development team is committed to providing a solid platform that enables certification of green buildings to further the mission of USGBC and GBCI.
Over the past two years GBCI has instituted an intensive technical training program for both newly hired in-house reviewers and for external review teams contracted through GBCI to perform LEED reviews. As we have grown our internal team of reviewers, we have recruited from within the design and construction industry with the net result that the majority (approximately 90%) of our internal review staff comes to us with both industry and LEED project experience and includes Professional Engineers, Architects, Certified Planners, former TAG members, as well as professionals with experience in facilities management, commissioning, construction management etc.
Essentially, the composition of a review team will largely reflect that of a project team, and bring the necessary engineering and design experience to the review process. If you ever have any questions about review comments that you have received, please do reach out to GBCI Certification staff via our Contact Us Form on the GBCI website.
We are very sensitive to the review timeliness frustrations of project teams and our staff is diligently working to reduce the review delays experienced by project teams. At any one time there are approximately 1,500 projects under review (~20% increase from the same period in 2011), with many more projects preparing submittals or clarifications. Our review staff is also responsible for responding to customer questions (we love to hear from you!) and consequently timeliness continues to be a challenge. We continue to hire qualified individuals to our team and once hired, each one is required to complete 6–9 months of intensive reviewer training.
Year to date, the majority of projects have been returned on time with over a third having been returned early (average 5 business days early). Although it is unusual for a review to be returned more than 10 business days late, we recognize that any delay can lead to frustration. Please remember that the 25 business day timeline for a preliminary review is approximate and not guaranteed; however, this is our target and we are striving to improve overall review timeliness.
LEED Certification has experienced some dramatic changes over the past few years, some of which put too much distance between our organization and project teams, and limited our influence over the quality and consistency of reviews. We recognized a need to revise our processes and over the past two years we have recruited highly qualified professionals to build our own internal review team.
During this period, GBCI has also instituted an intensive technical training program for both newly hired in-house reviewers and for external review teams contracted through GBCI to perform LEED reviews. We have also developed additional review support materials and host regular conference calls with all our reviewers. We are confident that these efforts are producing reviews of substantially higher quality and consistency than in the past.
Should you have any questions about the review comments that you have received please do reach out to us via the Contact Us page on the GBCI website. We investigate all issues that are brought to our attention, and will make corrections to review comments if a reviewer oversight is identified. Please be reminded that reviews received on prior projects do not set a formal precedent; this policy is in place to ensure that a review oversight is not perpetuated on future projects and is necessary to maintain the integrity of the LEED rating system.
This is a question that is most appropriately directed to the Sustainable Sites Initiative.
All projects are encouraged to be listed publicly it is at the discretion of the project team and owner as to whether the project is marked as confidential. We have shared your recommendation with the organization’s Communications Team—thank you!
USGBC is currently taking a comprehensive look at how it communicates with customers. USGBC is examining how best to collate information regarding the LEED programs and they are exploring the most effective way to provide LEED technical updates—there are some very exciting developments on this front, so please stay tuned!
Same response for question # 10 and #11 – see below.
The organization is no-longer able to support free plaques for certified projects. This change was made for LEED 2009 projects upon launch of those rating systems and applied to pre-LEED 2009 projects thirty months later in order to align our policies. There are some affordable options at GreenPlaque.com, most notably the decals, opaque and translucent.
LEED projects are subject to the certification fees and policies in place at the time they submit for review and complete their certification—these fees are not tied to the registration date. For example, for many BD&C projects there may be an extensive period of time between registration and submitting for initial review (often a year or two) and hence certification fees are tied to the date the project submits for review.
All of the announcements posted on GBCI’s website are also posted on GBCI’s RSS feeds. We encourage you to subscribe online to stay update to date on all announcements.
We have reached out to our colleagues in the LEED department at USGBC who are responsible for the reference guides, and they have confirmed that including general submittal requirements is being considered.
Please be assured that ‘phantom’ requirements do not and should not exist. Reviewers have access to the same guidance published by USGBC as project teams. As referenced in the original question, requests by reviewers for additional clarifications to documents already submitted are often reasonable and appropriate. All our reviewers are instructed to complete their reviews according to published guidance; as such, if a project team feels that they have been subject to an unreasonable request for documentation that is not required to demonstrate credit/prerequisite achievement please contact us immediately (GBCI Certification Contact Us page). We take these claims very seriously and do an immediate investigation to establish the veracity of the claim and will issue a correction if one is necessary. In addition, we complete a root-cause analysis to identify the cause of the incorrect review ruling, and circulate our findings and corrective action to all reviewers.
We have forwarded your suggestion to the LEED Online development team within USGBC who are responsible for LEED Online.
Yes, yes, yes! Our staff are available and very happy to discuss any project specific questions that you may have—these conversations can be pre-submittal or, in instances where you may have questions about review comments, post-review. We prefer that you first submit your detailed questions by email; if after receiving a response you have additional questions or issues that are best resolved via a conference call, we would be happy to schedule a call with the appropriate staff at a mutually convenient time—the Contact Us Form may be used to request a call.
We understand that ASHRAE 90.1 is a complex reference standard, and we agree that an energy model is the most difficult submittal within a LEED project. The Advanced Energy Modeling for LEED Technical Manual is now embedded within both LEED Online version 2 and version 3 and freely available to all registered projects. In addition, we are working closely with our colleagues in the LEED department to develop additional tools. We are also examining other options and offerings in the future such as a pre-review of Table 1.4 (proposed design energy model inputs versus baseline values) or a pre-submittal conference call.
We agree! This is a great suggestion and has been passed along to our colleagues at USGBC responsible for the Green Building Information Gateway (GBIG).
We have forwarded your question to our colleagues on the USGBC Residential team who handle LEED for Homes certification.
USGBC is working hard to provide a technology solution in LEED Online that will make it easier for all users to certify multiple buildings on a campus and in a group certification. The Application Guide for Multiple Buildings and On-Campus Building Projects was updated in October 2011 to include guidance for group certifications—please be sure to check this for credit-specific information. USGBC will provide a date for the release of group certification functionality in LEED Online and the associated certification fees as soon as possible.
We have shared your comments with our colleagues in the Credentialing department at GBCI. They are actively evaluating potential policy and program improvements—stay tuned!
Hi Tristan Roberts-
With the development and release of LEED 2012 in Nov. this year, i would like to know if the LEED GA&LEED AP exam will have significant changes and evolution, when and how?
My concerns are the same as Michelle Reott, as LEED V4 will launch at the Autumn of 2013, i have a question posted here about the LEED GA and LEED AP exam evluation, when the LEED GA and LEED AP exam pool will update and where can i find? is it secret? anyone who knows the situation, please give your comments. Thanks.
Michael - I too would like to hear from GBCI on the timeframe - especially with the announcement that LEED v4 (formerly LEED 2012) is now postponed.
I am working on studying for a second credential. When I inquired about the date of the development of the current exams, I was told this was not public information from a GBCI Customer Service rep (via Contact Us). My question was posed because of the extensive addenda that are now available as well as the changes in the CIR/LI system. I thought it was odd that the development date of the exams is not available.
Appreciate Scott Bowman for your comments, we are always paying attentions to the LEED AP exam evolution in 2013, if GBCI can share evolution schedule and make us informed about the update and direction, it will be helpful.
Comments have been made in v2012 webinars that the exams would be updated once all the material for the new standard is ready. So, I would not expect a new exam until well into 2013. If they use the same method as when v2009 came out, then they will also have a beta period to take the new exam. We had several people in our firm take the beta with success. Overall, those that took the beta and several after that have taken the v2009 exam have indicated that it was tough, but fair. At least I did not hear a lot of complaints internally.
I am wondering if there is an actual person who responds to questions submitted regarding CMP issues. I had a recent experience where I asked the same question 3 different ways and went out of my way to explain myself. In each case I received a response -- none of which had anything to do with the question I had asked. It was as if a keyword in my question triggered an automated response. It was maddening -- like consulting the Magic 8 Ball, or a random answer generator. I finally gave up after the 3rd try. If there are actual people answering questions, they could certainly try a little harder to get to the bottom of customers' problems.
In the past, I too have had very little success getting information via E-mail. Although it takes a little more time out of your day, I would strongly suggest to call the GBCI when you do not receive a proper answer via other means.
Whenever I call, I am usually re-directed and re-directed, but eventually I connect with someone who can give me a decent answer. And when all else fails, I come to the expert opinion of the world wide web (or just LEEDUser).
I have had a similar experience. The response I received did not answer the specific question I asked, but was a general reiteration of
why Owner Required Signatories are required and the option of using a designated Owner's Agent. I replied back using the "Follow up to GBCI Response" at www.gbci.org/contactus on May 15th. I am still waiting for a reply which answers my question.
Below is the e-mail thread:
Thank you for contacting the Green Building Certification Institute.
The purpose of Owner Required Signatories is to ensure that the entity responsible for the long-term performance of the building or space is informed of certain critical elements of the LEED Certification Application.
Each project has two options to completing the Owner Required Signatories within a project:
The actual Owner can log into LEED Online and complete the signatories within the applicable form
The Owner can designate an Owner's Agent to complete the signatories within the applicable forms on their behalf.
The project must select the desired compliance path at the whole project level via the Registration Details Tab under the Agent Form section. Important: the option to designate an individual to serve as Owner’s Agent is locked upon acceptance of the LEED Certification Agreement for a given project. Thus, it is critical that no one on the project team accepts the Certification Agreement until the decision of whether to designate an Owner’s Agent has been made and the required documentation has been completed and uploaded.
I hope that helps, but if you have any further questions or concerns, please feel free to use the contact form at http://www.gbci.org/contactus and select "Follow up to GBCI Response," inputting your case number from this email's subject line.
I posted the question below to LEEDuser.com, and the reply was to contact GBCI by phone, which I just did. I was told by GBCI that I now need to contact the USGBC.
I can update the Owner’s name on the Registration Details page, but we currently have some templates signed by the new owner and some by the old owner. *** Is it OK to have 2 different owner’s signatures on these forms or do we have to have the new owner resign the previously completed forms? ***
What to do when an Owner retires
The original Owner of our project with a large university has retired and a new project manager is now assigned as Owner. We have added the new Owner to the project team and marked the original owner as de-activated. Should we change the project owner information on the Registration Details tab and have the new person re-sign all of the credit forms, most of which are already marked Complete?
For the best way to approach this I would contact GBCI, a phone call would probably get you an answer quickly.
I am also frustrated with knowing when to call GBCI or USGBC and when to use their online contact forms. When I use the online forms to ask a question I'm been told to call, and when I call the recording always says, "For faster service use the online contact form." Either means of communication has been taking up to 3 weeks and additional phone calls to get an answer. What can I do to avoid these delays?
Thanks, Donna Juselis
Energy modeling and its review is a very complex and detailed endeavor on both sides. It would be good if there could be more than one round of review, comment, address, finalize. Adding just one more round where both reviewers and modelers can respond would ovoid a lot of appeals and angst in this extremely important part of the process.
While we have been pretty successful in addressing review comments, when you have so many comments at one time, something can be missed or misunderstood. It is always good to have both the narrative comment, and a little background. You are right Jean, if you did not have someone doing the model that was experienced, it could turn into an education session, but I am guessing that GBCI could handle that. Dialogue between knowledgeable modelers can make the process go very quickly in this vital part of the LEED standard.
Energy modeling is complex, it will never be “simple” unless the building is simple. I welcome Sarah’s comments related to an early review of the baseline assumptions…anything that helps move the process will be welcome.
A more open flow communication would bring a lot of benefit to both sides...the danger is only that the expert reviewer turns into a mentor/educator for which they are not paid. Nevertheless this point should be thought about in more depth.
This is another situation where it would be helpful to have a conference call, webex or Go To Meeting between the energy modeler and the reviewer either before initial documentation is submitted, or before clarifications are submitted.
I just discovered that plaques are no longer included in the certification cost. GBCI told me that policy went into effect in October of 2011, and it applies to projects that are certified after the policy date, not just to projects registered after the policy date. Shame on me for missing the notification, I guess...however, my question is this: wouldn't it be more fair to apply this policy to projects registered after the policy date, because a project could have been registered for 2 or 3 (or more) years prior to the policy date? I know I told several clients that the plaque is included in the certification fees, and now it costs extra...
"Thank you for contacting the Green Building Certification Institute and for your thoughtful feedback on the plaque policy."
"The change in the post-certification package was implemented specifically for pre-2009 projects in order to bring it into alignment with the LEED 2009 post-certification package."
- We needed to reduce our cost obligations.
"Essentially, the policy was already applicable to all projects that were registered after the announcement since all of those would be LEED 2009 projects, which have never been eligible to receive a free plaque."
- We hope by calling it an alignment you'll accept this change.
"The recognition package for all LEED certified projects (Both pre-2009 and 2009) does still include ten complimentary, 11-by-14-inch certificates and a formal letter of certification from GBCI."
- Hopefully it won't sting so bad if we remind you of the free stuff we do still give you.
Tristan, et al, I am pasting the reply that I received from GBCI: Thank you for contacting the Green Building Certification Institute and for your thoughtful feedback on the plaque policy. The change in the post-certification package was implemented specifically for pre-2009 projects in order to bring it into alignment with the LEED 2009 post-certification package. Essentially, the policy was already applicable to all projects that were registered after the announcement since all of those would be LEED 2009 projects, which have never been eligible to receive a free plaque.
The recognition package for all LEED certified projects (Both pre-2009 and 2009) does still include ten complimentary, 11-by-14-inch certificates and a formal letter of certification from GBCI.
All certified projects can order a variety of LEED plaques through our vendor partner, Greenplaque.com, to suit their project. Please see instructions on placing your order...
Doesn't really answer my question or address my issue, which doesn't really surprise me.
Will there be any effort, perhaps in the next version, to specify requirements in the Reference Guide, so that team members are not surprised by the "phantom" requirements that appear in the LEED Online Forms, or in review comments, and seem to be complete add-ons to what is stated in the Reference Guide? The "phantom" requirements are sometimes reasonable, sometimes seemingly completely superfluous, but always cause additional angst to team members who don't always have LEED documentation at the top of their to-do list. Phantom requirements that don't appear until review time also cause unnecessary delays when documentation has to be resubmitted.
Follow up on the same issue... I think this would not be any problem if, along with new requirement for the calculation, the USGBC or GBCI submitted some default rates for common occupancy types (e.g. lbs/sf or lbs/occupant for offices, lbs/room for hotels, lbs/sf for retail, etc.)
It's likely that these rates are very generic, so why require users to develop and justify some custom rate for every project?
I had this review comment on a core/shell project, asking for the recycling volume. How do we predict what the recycling volume will be if we don't know what the tenants are yet?
Example: Need for detailed calculations for projected volume of recycling waste requirements for MRp1. It's worth noting that we have never once seen an instance where the projected volume of waste exceeded our capacity, so we've never actually changed our layout due to these calculations.
What mechanism is in place to ensure that review comments are based on the requirements that were in place at the time of registration? The LEED Certification Policy Manual, Section 6.2, states that GBCI requires compliance with the version of the reference guide, including all published addenda, that was in place at the time of project registration. However, we have noticed that reviewers often make comments based on addenda that were issued after the date of registration, and sometimes even after the date that documentation was submitted.
It seems there is no mechanism in place to address this! We note instances where reviewers request additional information because addenda issued after project registration requires same.
Inconsistencies in project reviews, CIRs and even 'applied logic' occurs within the LEED rating systems, maybe due to a lack of cross-platform dialogue?
Decisions seems to be based on a one-dimensional view of the environmental impacts, or are simply biased. For example, decisions have been made on the basis that the project 'did nothing' to achieve a credit/point, forgetting that many projects achieve points due to circumstances. This is particularly true of points relating to commuting/transport.
Is it possible to schedule a conference call with the GBCI review team to discuss project-specific issues prior to submitting the documentation for review? This would provide a way for the project team to discuss any special circumstances with the review team and gain a better understanding of what the review team is expecting to see for documentation. If this option is available, what is the procedure to set up the call?
The results of pushing "Print Score Card" button does not include the status check marks. Anyway you can add status check marks( green when complete and grey when otherwise)? This would help LEED Administrators communicate with the rest of the LEED Team.......who is done and who is not.
It would also be nice if it looked good and printed on one sheet.
I have 2 questions:
1) What are the credential/experience level requirements for credit reviewers, in particular highly technical credits, and specifically EAp2/EAc1? We seem to have had a run of review comments where the reviewer simply doesn't understand the credit requirements as stated in the Reference Guide, or the ASHRAE requirements, or in some cases how eQuest works as a model.
While these issues are generally resolved via a thoughtful response, either through the preliminary/final review/response process, or informally in an email directly to the review team. However, these responses take time, usually weeks, which leaves the project team in limbo while we all wait. If an appeal becomes necessary, that's yet another 5 weeks (plus whatever the current delay is), plus $800 for the appeal. In the grand scheme of the project budget $800 is a drop in the bucket, but it is still an added cost at a time when projects are usually trying to cut costs.
Which brings me to my 2nd question:
2) What is GBCI doing to hire an adequate number of technical staff to complete reviews in the timeframe specified (25 business days)? As of now, that 25 days is completely meaningless, as the turn-around time is typically "25 business days plus whatever delays GBCI happens to be experiencing at that time."
This all adds up to an annoyance for the team, especially the owner. To be honest, we've had some backlash recently, where the owner said they are not likely to go through this process again -- it's just not worth it. While I can attribute these issues to "growing pains", it does not make it any less of an issue for the owner.
With the additions of building specific program guides (schools, healthcare, retail, hotels, etc) what is the technical expertise or training of the reviewers in those programs. I know many, many project teams outside my office that are pulling their hair out over healthcare projects and reviewers clearly not understanding how Hospitals are built, designed, licensed, operated, or regulated.
Completely agree. There are times that we have to resubmit information not because we did anything wrong, but because the auditor does not understand the credit. It is not our responsibility to educate the auditor / reviewer.
I think it would be very interesting to have statistics posted on credits. I know some of them from researchers and clients react well to them. It is also helpful to know that the SSc8 credits are difficult ones to get and most projects do not earn that credit. My boss likes to know when we are doing something 'unusual' and when we earn those credits, he is happy. Conversely, when we try one of 'those credits' and fail, it is good to know we are not alone. Stats posting could be quarterly or by credit level. Wouldn't it be interesting to know what platinum buildings earn credit wise over gold buildings?
One thing I notice is the consistency of credit comments. I know GBCI is working on this issue. But the frustrating part is when you get an non consistent review comment and know it but can't prove that to the GBCI reviewer. It would be great to have some sort of referee on that issue. What we think happens now, is you treat the GBCI reviewer like an AHJ reviewer and make attempts to mollifying them at what ever cost.
I'm on the National Capital Chapter's version of the same task force and after that and listening to the LEED HC development team give statistics, it helps understand where your projects are at and what you can do as a project administrator to move the ball.
I like your suggestion about statistics. I am on the Colorado Chapter’s Regionalization Task Force for LEED 2012. Just this week we were able to get LEED credit achievement for LEED-NC v2009 by state from National. It was interesting to see the data and to know they are tracking it. For instance, only 40% of projects in Colorado attempted SSc8.
Secondly, I learned a lot about the process for review and quality control at the GBCI Certification Zone at Greenbuild 2011. Frankly, it restored my faith in the process. It would be super if that information were more public.
Will LEED 2012 rely on the existing LEED-Online v3 platform, or will a new/different system be implemented?
How is the GBCI IT team working with key technology vendors (e.g. adobe, google, apple) to ensure non-compatibility issues like the one with the recent Adobe 10.1.3 update won't be repeated?
In addition, why is LEED-Online still so clunky and bug-ridden? How is GBCI working to simplify and streamline it? I can't be the only one who finds it maddening.
As one representative example, why must I click and wait to see the next person listed on the team members page? Is a modern scroll-down menu somehow too difficult to program?
Sorry if I sound snarky; I've just had it with LEED-Online!
For powerusers, would it be possible to create an RSS feed of every change to a LEED credit template, documentation requirement, or reference guide amendment? The last update to the "Certification Annoucements" feed was in December 2011.
Also, would it be possible to set a reasonable notification period for any substantial changes to either pricing or benefits? 0 days notice was provided for a significant change of the appeals fees, and only 7 days notice was given to a package that removed plaques from projects for every single v2 project. Ideally, any changes would be tied to registration dates and not able to affect active projects.
Has there ever been any follow up with certified projects that are listed as "confidential" to find out if the owner knows they are listed as such? When one marks the project as "confidential," most project team administrators seem to think that is necessary or all of the information about the project, especially budgets, will be spread through mass media. The database of certified projects could be enhanced if there was a better understanding of "confidential" and therefore were fewer truly "confidential" projects.
Why does someone for the GBCI need to sign the owner-agent form, as it is unclear why the GBCI needs to be involved in a legal document between an owner and its agent?
It was recently made clear during a final review that these forms need to be submitted in advance of design reviews, yet as review documentation is going to the GBCI anyway, couldn't the process be amended to one where the GBCI signs the form as part of the review?
To assist in this issue, I've taken to sitting down with the Owner's rep and doing a mass signing. I will have them create their password with me the meeting prior and get them to make a USGBC contact in their Outlook. The day we sign, we pull up that contact, log them in and go through the entire roster together. There are a few that can't be signed before design review but we take care of most of them. It helps me to know where they have stored their password so that I can help them remember.
Now that the Sustainable Sites Initiative has certified its first three projects, willl there be a move in the near future to create a exam and specific credential for SITES practitioners? If so, when might we begin to see development and promotion of that exam? Many of us are anxious for that credential to be made available soon. Thanks.
I took the same survey and had discussions about it with local LEED APs, many of whom were supportive of the need for a professional SITES credential for those who want it. I waited 4 years for the ND exam to become available, and it was worth the wait, but I would like to see an exam for SITES be ready for us from GBCI very soon. With the first three projects certified and an update to the rating system coming shortly, it would be great to see GBCI make this a priority.
I have a project in the SITES pilot. We were asked to take a survey in October 2011 about the feasibility and value of SITES professional credentialing and project certification with GBCI. I have not heard the results of that survey but it sounds like your idea is being considered.
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