|July 19, 2010|
Previously published on June 1, 2010
When the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) recently rolled out version 3 of the Leadership and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating system in July of 2009, the question of whether a building’s LEED certification could be taken away or the building decertified quickly became a hotly debated issue. The issue came to the forefront in a high profile challenge to the LEED rating of a mid-west school project and was further fueled by new provisions in LEED 2009 which reserved the USGBC’s ability to revoke certification of a project that fails to meet the program’s MPR’s or Minimum Program Requirements. One such MPR included a new requirement regarding mandatory information sharing about the project’s energy and water usage for five years after certification. What was missing from USGBC was a clarification whether a threat of decertification was at the initial rating approval/award stage or whether the threat of decertification extended through the five year reporting stage.
Thankfully USGBC issued LEED 2009 MPR Supplement Guidance document version 1.0 in November 2009 which helps clarify the decertification issue. The supplemental guidance document states that if it becomes known that a LEED project is or was in violation of an MPR, certification may be revoked, or the certification process may be halted and that these situations will be handled on a case by case basis. The supplemental guide also states that the utilities consumption reporting MPR was not intended to penalize project teams with buildings that do not perform as well as intended or to create insurmountable technical or legal barriers to registering a LEED project.
USGBC further clarified its intent by stating that the intent for the five year reporting requirement was to improve future version of LEED rather than to strip certification from prior projects. However, building owners, project developers, builders, and designers should take great care with the express and implied promises made in their projects as the question and threat of decertification remains unchanged in LEED ver. 3 and presently only resides within the language of a supplemental USGBC opinion statement. Great care should also be taken to correctly report all information in a LEED certification request as it has and remains USGBC’s policy to go back and review certification in instances where a petitioner either lied or unintentionally provided inaccurate information thereby misrepresenting the project.