Greenbuild & the LEED Dynamic Plaque

In just a couple of weeks 20,000+ people will gather in New Orleans to celebrate Greenbuild the annual event of the US Green Building Council. This year’s program may be the biggest and best yet; packed full of great keynote speeches, educational programs, tours, workshops and entertainment. It really is a time to celebrate.

I have to confess that it’s a very special time for me having attended my first USGBC meeting in 1993 making it somewhat of an annual ‘family reunion’. It’s absolutely awesome to see how much our family has grown and the impact we are having both in the US and around the world.

However this may also be the most controversial Greenbuild ever.

Over the past few years a small group of internal staff have been working on a revolutionary new product called the LEED Dynamic Plaque. The concept and design is brilliant as the USGBC worked with one of the world’s leading design

firms to create a tool to visualize how buildings perform. It is designed to give feedback and engage people on a greater frequency than the current LEED Rating Systems and to increase the number of buildings being recertified.

While the USGBC introduced the concept of the LEED Dynamic Plaque at last year’s Greenbuild, I only learned about it a month ago — perhaps it is new to you as well. It appears to have been in the works for several years developed almost exclusively by a small cadre of USGBC staff and handpicked consultants. It seems that the LEED Steering Committee and Technical Advisory Groups (TAGs) had only minimal input and forums for public review and comments were completed excluded in order to develop something new and revolutionary.

While I suspect that it would be difficult to create something so revolutionary now that USGBC membership has reached almost 13,000 organizations with 250,000 LEED Accredited Professionals. Perhaps developing the LEED Dynamic Plaque internally seemed like a necessity in the eyes of USGBC leadership after the years of effort to revise LEED Version 4 requiring five (or was it six) public comment periods, tens of thousands of comments, thousands of hours of staff and volunteer time, and over ten million dollars to complete.

Yet at the same time, I am disappointed as a long time member and argent supporter of the USGBC and LEED that I was NOT given an opportunity to provide input to its development. How about you, would you like to have input into the development of this amazing new tool? (click here to tell us what you think)

What also concerns me is the LEED Dynamic Plaque tracks only 5 things (energy, water, waste, transportation and occupant experience) and ignores purchasing and numerous other areas that have been included in the LEED Rating Systems. 

Frankly I wonder how that small group of staff members and consultants decided what was in or out, how they valued/weighed one area compared to the others when assigning points, and how they addressed the various interests of its now large and diverse membership. I also wonder if they followed the requirements found in the LEED Foundation documents which outlines the requirements for LEED. I am curious if you wonder about the same? (click here to take our short survey)

To me, LEED is a “tool” for market transformation. It is not just about the building’s performance. From an operations and maintenance perspective, buildings have a real opportunity to transform entire industries.

This has certainly been the case for the cleaning industry where LEED-EBOM has been instrumental creating the demand for “greener” cleaning products. And the transformation has been revolutionary resulting in products that perform well and are cost effective while at the same time reducing impacts on health and the environment. And the success has gone mainstream as it is now the law or policy in 22 states and the cleaning credits in LEED-EBOM has been the “roadmap” for numerous programs in schools and health care; as well as programs such as ISSA’s CIMS-GB and Green Seal’s GS-42 standards for cleaning services. But the LEED Dynamic Plaque completely ignores Green Cleaning.

The lack of tracking goes beyond just cleaning products. It also ignores the transformational affect LEED can have on forestry, furniture, office supplies, electronics, food and other products/industries. Plus it ignores numerous other requirements found in LEED including ENERGY STAR benchmarking, ASHRAE requirements, integrated pest management, exterior site maintenance, landscaping, HVAC maintenance, refrigerant leakage tracking and more.

Candidly, while I think the vision and intent of the USGBC for the LEED Dynamic Plaque are good, I’m not sure how I feel about it being developed without member input and its lack of requirements and other technical considerations. So please let me know what you think. 

Please click on this link and take a quick survey. It will take you about 2 minutes and will be very helpful as I prepare for Greenbuild.

The first two people taking the survey will receive a copy of  Explosion Green, David Gottfried’s new book  (David was one of the founders of the USGBC) and everyone will be put in a drawing for two more copies of his book — you have 4 chances to  win. So, please take the survey now! 


Take care and I’ll keep you posted on Greenbuild, USGBC and the LEED Dynamic Plaque.