This PNC Bank branch in East Bradford, Pennsylvania was one of 18 nearly identical PNC Bank branches to participate in USGBC’s pilot LEED Volume certification program, which is now officially released.
The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has launched a new program aimed at larger LEED customers—building owners and property managers certifying 25 or more LEED projects within a three-year window.
The LEED Volume Program, launched at Greenbuild 2010, is designed for government, education, real estate organizations, retailers, and the hospitality industry. The fledgling program has already engaged eight organizations, according to USGBC. A pilot program launched in 2006 had 38 participants, including Best Buy, Marriott Hotels, and PNC Financial Services Group, and resulted in 350 LEED certifications. Participants can now use the LEED Volume Program for design and construction projects (such as LEED-NC), and it will be available for LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance (LEED-EBOM) in mid-2011, says USGBC.
The chief benefit to participants, according to USGBC, is the ability to simplify the LEED documentation for multiple buildings, saving money and effort. The program allows the organization to define a prototype by choosing a set of prerequisites and credits that are common to all the projects it plans to certify. The Green Building Certification Institute will “precertify” this prototype. Participants can then apply for certification of actual buildings, relying on the pre-approved documentation and providing additional information only for credits that differ from the prototype.
Although it’s easy to see the LEED Volume program applying to cookie-cutter projects like bank branches or retail outlets, Doug Gatlin, vice president for LEED market development for USGBC, told EBN
that it’s as much about process as building features. For example, a prototype could rely on standardized management practices tailored to the LEED-EBOM rating system. For design and construction, a number of credits, such as indoor air quality management, are about following procedures relevant to any site. The only thing buildings have to have in common as far as features is a single LEED rating system, says Gatlin.
Four years ago as the LEED volume pilot program was getting underway, Gatlin told EBN
that the biggest imperative would be maintaining LEED’s technical standards (see “LEED Streamlined for Real Estate Portfolios, Volume Builders,” EBN Dec. 2006
). USGBC has tackled this issue through a quality control system, backed up with audits. During the prototype process, participants must develop a Quality Control Plan that provides “tools and processes the participant will use to deliver projects that consistently meet the LEED credit requirements,” in the words of the LEED Volume guidebook. Even prior to this process, LEED Volume program applicants must demonstrate organization-wide attention to sustainability and an existing quality-control approach to building projects.
USGBC will audit the first three projects completed under a prototype, and then conduct more audits under a tiered system, with what Gatlin called “severe penalties” for failures. Penalties can be as light as going through the credit appeal process with GBCI, but particularly in the case of prerequisites or audit failures resulting in dropped LEED certification levels, organizations must document the cause of failure in the quality control process and the corrective actions they’ve taken. A further audit failure will send the participant back to the prototype precertification process.
Under the LEED Volume Program fee structure, organizations pay a prototype fee ($40,000 for USGBC members), a bundled fee for project registration and certification ($35,000 for the first 25 projects), and if necessary, a corrective action fee ($20,000). Like all larger LEED customers, participants also get an account manager at USGBC to work with. While the cost savings would depend on project specifics, Gatlin said that USGBC anticipated a 70% reduction in fees for the average participant.
For more information
LEED Volume Program
December 20, 2010
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