What Needs to Happen

What are the obvious fixes for the situation where most LEED-registered projects don't get certified? After all, if the USGBC's mission is to transform the building industry, the first step in completing the assignment is to make sure that those projects which start the journey actually get to the end of the road.

To get a better handle on what can be done, we interviewed several experienced LEED project management consultants around the country. Here are some of the fixes they recommended:

1 Have a realistic expectation of the costs of completing a LEED-certified project, both in terms of "soft" costs (design, process management, and documentation) and "hard" costs of additional net capital expenditures. Make sure that the project budget contains money for potential capital cost increases and, equally importantly, for LEED documentation.

2 Find a sensei, a master teacher (aka consultant) who can guide you through (at least) your first two projects, until you can clearly master all the technical, process, and documentation steps and until a "process champion" emerges from, or is assigned to the design and construction team.

3 Develop or purchase proprietary tools for LEED process management (see Chap. 8 for an example). It's different enough from conventional project design and construction to warrant a fresh approach. Make sure that these tools are employed on every project. Don't have people "winging it" by starting over each time a new person is put in charge of the LEED certification effort.

4 Building teams shouldn't expect to get paid extra for each project to do the same level of effort in green design and certification. My advice to them: get your costs down with each subsequent project. Look at LEED project management as a process amenable to the same process improvement steps as project design and delivery. One engineer noted the architecture and engineering firms "should be charging lump-sum fees for the value they bring" to an integrated design team.1

5 Project teams should take advantage of the distinction between "design" and "construction" credits in LEED-NC version 2.0 and submit the design credits for review as soon as construction starts. That way, they'll have a better idea where a given project stands (and will have assembled the documentation for the design credits) long before construction completion, while there's still time to add construction credits to reach desired certification levels.

♦Personal communication, Warren Whitehead, CB Richard Ellis, December 2007. ^Paul Schwer, PAE Consulting Engineers, personal communication, May 2008.

6 Some people we interviewed said that there are institutional clients who are beginning to express the opinion that once they've designed and certified a couple of projects, they don't have to do it anymore, because they've proven that their design and construction process really is very green. This attitude, akin to "been there, done that," is a sure recipe for backsliding to the "pre-LEED" world. An owner without a responsibility to third-party documentation and certification doesn't demonstrate commitment to achieving higher-performance results and probably won't get them.

7 Owners and developers should hire those building teams with the most LEED experience if they want the best results. While obvious to many, this conclusion is often at odds with the tendencies of institutional owners to hire the teams they know best from previous (non-LEED) projects.

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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