The U.S. Green Building Council, which is holding its fifth Greenbuild this month in Denver, is prospering—6,925 member companies enrolled, dozens of highly motivated chapters throughout the country, 4,213 projects registered under its LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating program, 622 projects certified, and 27,000+ LEED Accredited Professionals.
Not to mention what's on the horizon—LEED for Homes (2007 release), LEED for Schools (early 2007), an application guide for healthcare (mid-2007), and the biggie, LEED Version 3.0 (whenever).
To get a feel for how the current version of LEED (2.2) is working, I recently attended a workshop conducted by five members of the extremely active USGBC Chicago chapter: Sanchin Anand, PE, an ME with dbHMS Consulting Engineers; mechanical engineer Heather Beaudoin and architect Rand Ekman of architecture firm OWP/P; architect Helen J. Kessler, FAIA, HJ Kessler Associates, and Erik Olsen, PE, who runs the green “fast-permit” program for the city of Chicago.
Highlights of LEED 2.2 improvements:
The new Adobe software and other online improvements have been a boon to Building Teams. “It makes the process transparent for the entire design team, and it saves paper,” says Kessler. Ekman says having everything online makes it easier for project reviewers like himself.
Version 2.2 updates credits to reflect the most current standard. For example, it leapfrogs ASHRAE 90.1-2001 and references 90.1-2004. “Much more up to date,” says Beaudoin.
Huge improvement over Version 2.1: separating design review from construction review. This gives Building Teams the option of submitting the project in the design phase (with roughly 60% of LEED credits) and following up later with construction documents. “This allows you to get a read on whether you've made the right decisions [in design] and can meet the requirements for certification” before the project is completed, says Ekman. “It's optional, but I think it's good.”
Version 2.2 is much more accurate, less ambiguous, and more up to date as to specific requirements than 2.1. “There's less guessing about what you have to do,” says Anand.
Some “true improvements” have been made to the requirements. SS Credit 2 (Development Density and Community Connectivity) defines “community” more clearly (“near a bank, stores, etc.”), which makes it much more workable. IEQ Credit 2 (Increased Ventilation) has been “vastly improved,” says Olsen. Previously, the credit referred to ASHRAE Standard 129, which is based on a laboratory test. Now, if you can show you're providing 30% more outdoor ventilation than required under ASHRAE, you get the credit. “The point of the credit is to get outside air in,” says Olsen.
There's a major shortcoming in 2.2, says Olsen—the lack of a requirement for projects to have a minimum level of energy savings over ASHRAE 90.1 (his suggestion: 20%), or a minimum number of points for energy optimization (his recommendation: 2). “I see numerous projects that get LEED certification but ignore energy credits,” he says.
After two hours, the panelists admitted they had just skimmed the surface of 2.2. Finally, I asked them, “Does 2.2 lead to 'better'—that is, more fully integrated—projects?”
Their conclusion: Version 2.2 doesn't guarantee integration, any more than 2.1 did. “There's no requirement, only the experience of veteran consultants who have done it a lot,” said Kessler.
Green Globes makes waves
Another rating program that has been gaining attention is Green Globes. This online, interactive rating system has been licensed by the Green Building Initiative, Portland, Ore., from BOMA Canada's Green Go Plus program.
In addition to its online capability (www.greenglobes.com), the program helps Building Teams make choices and decisions, based on a feedback mechanism. Green Globes requires integrated design, as well as on-site inspection for certification.
The Green Building Initiative has been named the Standards Development Organization for green building by the American National Standards Institute. GBI has created a technical committee to develop an ANSI standard for green building by 2008.
Canada recently certified its one hundredth project under BOMA Green Go Plus. In the U.S., Green Globes have been awarded to six projects:
Alberici Headquarters, a 110,000-sf office building in St. Louis (four Green Globes and LEED Platinum).
Pfizer Inc. CRU Building, a 62,500-sf research lab in New Haven, Conn. (three Green Globes).
Clinton Presidential Library, the 150,000-sf library/museum in Little Rock, Ark. (two Green Globes, LEED Silver).
Blakeley Hall, a 7,000-sf community center in Issaquah, Wash. (two).
Summit County (Colo.) Recovery Facility, a 19,000-sf recycling plant (two).
RenewAire LLC, a 37,000-sf office/manufacturing facility, Madison, Wis. (two).
LEED construction project statistics (as of 09/06)
|Total certified projects||484||34||83||21||622|
|Total registered projects||3427||207||360||219||4213|
|Gross sf of registered projects (in millions)||386||56||17||48||507|
LEED registered projects by building type
(for all LEED rating systems, as of 09/06)
|Source: U.S. Green Building Council, October 2006
(cumulative total by year)
|CS||Total all LEED programs|
How LEED has grown
Cumulative gross sf under LEED registration (in millions)
|Total all||LEED programs|
|*As of 09/06
Green Globes – Certified U.S. Projects
|Project||Gross sf||Type of facility||Location||Number of Green Globes|
|RenewAire LLC||37,000||Office/manufacturing||Madison, Wis.||2|
|Summit County Recovery Facility||19,000||Recycling plant||Summit County, Colo.||2|
|Clinton Presidential Library||150,000||Library/museum||Little Rock, Ark.||2|
|Blakeley Hall||7,000||Community center||Issaquah, Wash.||2|
|Pfizer, Inc. CRU Building||62,500||Research lab||New Haven, Conn.||3|
|Alberici Headquarters||110,000||Office building||St. Louis, Mo.||4|
1,000 points in 7 areas
|1000||Total available points|