Certified Sustainable Buildings

Building to be LEED-CertifiaBULL

Let’s be clear – it’s not LEED if it’s not certified.  That’s what I’ve been saying for quite some time now, in light of all the projects out there being “designed to LEED standards” or being designed to be “LEED certifiable”.  At best, these terms are misleading – and at worst – dishonest greenwashing.  But my friend, Tracie Hall, said it with so much more flair this morning at the SUN Group Meeting (Sustainable Upstate Network) when she called it “certifiaBULL.

At a time when corruption and dishonesty seem to be the norm, many of us are looking for something to believe in.  And, I’m just world-weary and cynical enough to say “prove it” when someone claims their product or their building is “green”.  But you say – why should I have to prove it?  It costs too much to certify!

Let’s take some examples from our very own design and construction industry.  The first step is to design a building, create construction documents and take them to the building department.  The design professional needs to be registered by the State (certified) in order to  stamp those documents.  The design professional cannot tell the codes official, “Trust me – I know what I’m doing.  I don’t need that expensive license (certification).”

Next, the building department has to approve the documents before a building permit (certification) is issued.  The building owner can’t say, “I know that the health and safety of the people who will occupy the building is protected.  I don’t need that expensive building permit (certification).”

Now the contractor is finished, and the owner is anxious to move in.  But, the building needs to be inspected and a Certificate of Occupancy (certification) has to be issued.  The contractor cannot say, “Trust me.  It has been built exactly according to the construction documents.  I don’t need to spend the money on a Certificate of Occupancy.” If you work in this industry, you know that some pretty interesting things happen to a building between the time that the construction documents are issued and the building is complete.

Now, we’ve got design professionals and building owners claiming that their building is really green and it has been built to “LEED standards” and that it is “LEED-certifiable”.  And, they claim, that they can’t afford the expense to certify.  I say – we can’t afford not to.