Bringing LEED Home

After hiring 10 organizations last year to review LEED applicants and help ease the backlog of applications and months-long review waits, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) will be moving toward bringing the evaluation process back in-house within the next two years, the Washington Business Journal reports.

While the hired organizations did a strong job in reducing waits and increasing the pace of LEED evaluations, questions have been raised about the consistency and quality of their reviews. The hired companies specialize in general certification consulting, but not necessarily green building.

Stuart Kaplow, chairman of the USGBC Maryland chapter and a Baltimore attorney, says the organization’s growth is probably responsible for the minor setback. “What kind of business could withstand 100 percent growth in three to five years and not have some growing pains—I think that’s all that this is, and I think it is not shocking,” he told the Washington Business Journal. “This didn’t work, which is why they’re looking for a better model.”

Some, like Kara Strong, a senior project manager in the D.C. office of Richmond-based Sustainable Design Consulting LLC, have ideas to better the procedure. “There are definitely opportunities for better quality control,” she notes to WBJ. “Having staff or individuals who have more experience with building construction looking at reviews before they’re issued to the teams would be a wonderful idea.”

Although this previous format left 100 percent of the reviews outsourced to outside organizations, the USGBC plans to hire new staff and bring at least 75 percent of the process back within the council. It’s no surprise the group has struggled to keep up with the number of applications, given that the growing intensity of the green movement has led to a doubling in buildings receiving the designation from 2007 to 2009. With LEED ratings becoming increasingly complex, the USGBC plans to increase its oversight over the review process in many ways.

Because, as the phrase goes, if you want something done right…

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