Green Sage Ideas


LEED - How Do You Hit a Moving Target?

by Mary Lea Tucker on 02/27/12

Does LEED seem like a continually moving target? Do you know which direction that target is going to move next? Does the target seem hidden at times? Does it seem like it splinters into multiple targets and you feel uncertain which one to aim for? Do you have other responsibilities besides hitting this moving target which cause you to be slow in responding to the target’s movements? If this describes your experience with LEED, there is help.

LEED is changing. That fact is widely promoted by USGBC. The goal is to update the rating system every few years, making it more rigorous with each new version. The next version is coming just three years after the release of the current version. Fortunately, USGBC publishes drafts of upcoming versions. This answers the question of which direction the target is moving. Becoming familiar with these drafts is vital to understanding where you need to aim in the future or you just might be blindsided by the target if you’re in its path.

Some changes in LEED are not quite so obvious, nor do they come only after a few years. Some changes or modifications come every three months and some can come at any moment. And many of those modifications or clarifications are promoted quietly, if at all. Sometimes LEED credits can seem unclear or obscure so it feels like the target is hidden. USGBC and GBCI offer assistance here as well. Five resources in particular can help your aim. First, every three months, USGBC publishes Addenda for each rating system that includes corrections, LEED Interpretations, and Alternative Compliance Paths for achieving credits. A thorough study of the current Addenda for the rating system you’re using is a must for uncovering useful tips and additional ways to satisfy credit requirements for an obscure target. Next, make use of the searchable LEED Interpretations and Addenda online database interface on USGBC’s website. Third, take advantage of quarterly USGBC webcasts that explain the addenda and interpretations released during that quarter. Also download and examine Supplemental Guidance documents for Minimum Program Requirements and Additional Guidance documents for certain credits. And finally, check out the resources on the website, especially the LEED Certification Policy Manual and the LEED Project Submittal Tips.

LEED periodically becomes more specific in its focus by splintering into different rating systems. Currently there are nine major systems which can be even more divided depending on the type of project you’re considering, i.e. LEED for Retail – New Construction or LEED for Retail – Commercial Interiors. Download and read the LEED Rating System Selection Guidance from USGBC for specific requirements for each rating system.

We didn’t even discuss Pilot credits or borrowing credits from other rating systems. If staying on top of all of this seems overwhelming, a LEED Consultant can help. Pressure from other responsibilities that limit your time for continual efforts to stay current can make it seem like you’re relegated to using a bow and arrow to hit a quickly moving target. Whether you need guidance for a few hours or a few months, a LEED consultant can help you hit that target with a laser beam focus and increase the odds that your next LEED project will be a bull’s-eye.