Jack Terranova: LEED Certification-Why the Stone Throwing?

LEED Certification and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) have been discussed lately, with an attempt to discredit the USGBC and the effect certification has on reducing energy consumption. USGBC is concerned about many things from sustainable purchases, to the indoor and outdoor environment to energy conservation. Comparisons to EPA’s Energy Star were made but Energy Star is a completely different tool. Energy Star provides you with a snap shot of how your building is performing compared to other buildings across the nation. Though EPA has been making great strides, this tool has many flaws, including how it calculates source and site energy to how it determines the score. Energy Star vs. LEED Certification is not a true “apples to apples” comparison.

Obtaining LEED certification for your building is an incredible achievement. As a member of the REBNY Board of Directors and Sustainability Committee, we are presently reviewing the next revisions to LEED which are coming out shortly. One major suggestion I have is that consultants should not be allowed to assist with the certification, and only those directly responsible for managing the property should be allowed to compile and enter data. Though the templates require assistance, many hire consultants who do the work and then state the Property Manager is the declarant. Having experienced this effort as a consultant, you learn so much about the functionality of your building. And this is thanks to LEED and the USGBC. Certification should not be an achievement that becomes a source of revenue for those who know very little about your building but understand the loopholes that may be present within the ratings systems and know how to exploit such.

Another recommendation would be to have two sets of rating systems, one for properties that are within an urban environment and those in a suburban setting. Furthermore, those buildings which are multi-tenanted should have an exemption or a means of having a level playing field against those buildings which are owner occupied and whose corporate culture promotes sustainability and whose occupants are willing to participate in many of the credits which require tenant surveys versus multi tenanted buildings and whose tenants may or may not be interested in participating in surveys.

What are your thoughts?

Jack Terranova, PE, LEED AP
Senior Vice President
Cassidy Turley, New York