News Analysis

LEED to Start Closing Equity Gaps with “All In” Strategy

USGBC will start integrating more equity elements into the LEED rating systems and beyond.

USGBC All In graphic
Image: USGBC
“A sustainable future is meaningless if it is not also an equitable future.”

That’s the bold statement made on the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) website to introduce a new 12-point strategy called “All In.” The idea is to close equity gaps in the LEED rating systems, which have traditionally benefited white, middle-class professionals and building occupants.

This new strategy will permeate the organization along with the rating systems and will be expressed through new initiatives—such as one announced at Greenbuild 2020 to provide scholarships for LEED accredited professional credentials to 500 people in underserved communities. The scholarships include both education and testing as well as networking opportunities with companies looking to hire LEED APs.

Fitting it all in

More announcements were made in a Greenbuild session titled “Future of LEED: Ensuring equity for all.” Some of the highlights include:

  • Governance—USGBC will be reaching out to a more diverse group of people, including equity experts not directly involved in green building, to join the board and key committees.
  • Senior fellows—The organization has taken on senior fellows to “help USGBC put together a framework to start connecting the dots to a more equitable world,” according to Susan Kaplan, president of BuildingWrx, one of the fellows.
  • Equity Summits—USGBC has already hosted two equity summits (see “USGBC and Social Equity: What’s Available and What’s Missing”) and will continue to engage with participants and do the necessary work identified at these summits.
  • LEED AP credentials—LEED Green Associates and APs will soon have to achieve equity-related continuing education credits in order to renew their credentials.
  • Intent statements—In v4.1, the beta version of the LEED rating systems, the credit intent statements are set to change to include equity language. For example, the Construction Waste Management credit will tout the benefits to fenceline communities of not building new landfills.
  • New pilot credits—In addition to three big pilot credits already on the books (covering social equity on the project team, in the community, and in the product supply chain), several more will be added. These include a forthcoming one on gender-neutral bathrooms.
  • More integration—It’s not just intent statements that are set to change. But there are fewer credit changes that directly impact equity. One example is the addition of social equity to the main credit language for Integrative Process in v4.1.
  • Possible restructuring—Although it’s not on the table for v4.1, the rating systems may ultimately see complete restructuring in order to integrate equity, according to Melissa Baker, senior vice president, technical core.

Accountability

“We need to hold ourselves accountable” by ensuring that the rating system and USGBC itself are infused with equity and not just giving lip service to the concepts, said Kaplan.

Baker said that people need to weigh in, in order to help ensure the future looks better than the present. “We know there’s more work to be done. We want to listen and learn and think about the best way to do that work in LEED.”

“I challenge every attendee here to find some way to get involved,” said Selina Holmes, vice president, LEED marketing, at USGBC.

More on equity in green building

Centering Equity: The Quest for Justice in Green Building

Equity in Design and Construction: Seven Case Studies

Re-forming the Building Industry: Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

For more information:

USGBC
usgbc.org

 

Published November 12, 2020

Melton, P. (2020, November 12). LEED to Start Closing Equity Gaps with “All In” Strategy. Retrieved from https://www.buildinggreen.com/news-analysis/leed-start-closing-equity-gaps-all-strategy

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