Did You Know You Can Challenge LEED Certification?

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LEED Challengeby Christopher Cheatham is the managing partner of Cheatham Consulting. Chris is also the publisher of the acclaimed Green Building Law Update.

I am going to be honest with you, I have been sitting on some LEEDigation-related stories.  I sat on these stories because I wanted to understand the implications before writing about them.

Take our first story from Wisconsin.  As was first reported at the Green Real Estate Law Journal, a group of Wisconsin residents filed a challenge to a project’s LEED certification:

“[A]ccording to an article that appeared last week in Eagle River, Wisconsin’s Vilas County News-Review, a group of local residents have filed a 125-page complaint with USGBC that challenges the award of LEED Gold certification to the Northland Pines High School, which was completed in the fall of 2006 and earned formal certification under LEED for New Construction Version 2.0/2.1 on May 10, 2007. It’s unclear when the complaint was filed or what specific allegations it asserts. However, according to the article, the residents initially raised concerns about the project during the design phase, claiming that a more efficient HVAC system was available and should have been specified by Hoffman LLC, the Appleton, Wisconsin-based firm that designed the school.”

You may recall that back in July 2009, we discussed the concept of LEED Decertification in the LEED 2009 rating system if a project fails to attain Minimum Project Requirements.  The Wisconsin project was actually certified under a prior LEED rating system and was challenged under the “Certification Challenge Policy.”

When I first learned of this story, I asked a question that many of you may also be asking.  There’s a LEED Certification Challenge Policy?  Yes, according to the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) LEED Policy Manual (.pdf):

“GBCI may revoke previously granted LEED certification or take other action regarding LEED certification such as determine to reduce points or category of LEED certification previously granted, if GBCI determines that credits/prerequisites for LEED certification were granted based on erroneous determinations or inaccurately or falsely submitted documentation. Persons concerned with possible inaccurately granted LEED certification are encouraged to contact the GBCI, provided, however that GBCI reserves the right to institute an investigation and review of such possible errors or inaccuracy or veracity of documentation without third party complaint.

Persons desiring to make a complaint may submit a written statement identifying the persons alleged to be involved and the facts concerning the alleged conduct in detail, and, to the extent available, the statement shall be accompanied by any available documentation. The statement shall identify others who may have knowledge of the facts and circumstances concerning the allegation. The person making the complaint shall identify him/herself by name, address, and telephone number.

Upon receipt of a complaint or upon the finding of concern, the GBCI President shall confer with legal counsel. The GBCI President shall direct a detailed technical review of documentation submitted in connection with the project which served as basis of award of credit/prerequisite. GBCI may request supplemental information from the person(s) making the complaint.

If GBCI determines that the complaint is frivolous or not relevant to credits required for LEED certification, no further action will be taken. Should GBCI determine that the allegation appears credible and the allegation is founded on the error or inaccuracy of GBCI or veracity of the documentation submitted in support of the credits/prerequisites in question, GBCI shall proceed with its investigation, requesting information from the Project Manager and/or the Owner or others involved in the project.”

What do you think was the result of the first LEED challenge?

© 2010, Tracey de Morsella. All rights reserved. Do not republish.

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Author: Tracey de Morsella (323 Articles)

Tracey de Morsella started her career working as an editor for US Technology Magazine. She used that experience to launch Delaware Valley Network, a publication for professionals in the Greater Philadelphia area. Years later, she used the contacts and resources she acquired to work in executive search specializing in technical and diversity recruitment. She has conducted recruitment training seminars for Wachovia Bank, the Department of Interior and the US Postal Service. During this time, she also created a diversity portal called The Multicultural Advantage and published the Diversity Recruitment Advertising Toolkit, a directory of recruiting resources for human resources professionals. Her career and recruitment articles have appeared in numerous publications and web portals including Woman Engineer Magazine, Monster.com, About.com Job Search Channel, Workplace Diversity Magazine, Society for Human Resource Management web site, NSBE Engineering Magazine, HR.com, and Human Resource Consultants Association Newsletter. Her work with technology professionals drew her to pursuing training and work in web development, which led to a stint at Merrill Lynch as an Intranet Manager. In March, she decided to combine her technical and career management expertise with her passion for the environment, and with her husband, launched The Green Economy Post, a blog providing green career information and covering the impact of the environment, sustainable building, cleantech and renewable energy on the US economy. Her sustainability articles have appeared on Industrial Maintenance & Plant Operation, Chem.Info,FastCompany and CleanTechies.