Walls & Ceilings Architect/October 2009 - (Page 14)
straight GREEN BY CHRIS DIXON Green Building MINIMUM PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS With the latest LEED Version 3.0, the USGBC introduced something called Minimum Program Requirements, which must be met in order to earn and retain LEED certiﬁcation. There are seven MPRs that buildings must meet, depending on the rating system being used: 1. Must comply with environmental laws 2. Must be a complete, permanent building or space 3. Mu s t u s e a re a son able site boundary 4. Must comply with minimum ﬂoor area requirements 5. Must comply with minimum occupancy rates 6. Must commit to sharing wholeb u i ld i n g e n e r g y a n d w at e r usage data 7. Must comply with a minimum building area to site area ratio The USGBC goes on to state on its Web site that: “Certification may be revoked from any LEED project upon gaining knowledge of non-compliance with any applicable MPR. If such a circumstance occurs, registration and/or certiﬁcation fees will not be refunded.” This new requirement solves the problem in the example I give about the restroom fixtures, and also paves the way for a building’s potential decertification. A future MPR addressing unearned LEED rating system prerequisites and points would not be a great surprise. “Decertiﬁcation” One of the ﬁrst LEED certiﬁed buildings I ever toured was a large corporate ofﬁce headquarters building in Wisconsin. My tour guides, the building’s architect and corporation executive, proudly announced that the building had achieved LEED Gold. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to see an actual Gold certiﬁed building up close and personal, after having spent several months studying the LEED rating system. I listened in rapt attention as we moved through the building; the low-VOC paint pointed out here, the recycled content ﬂooring there, the sophisticated HVAC system overhead. When we reached the restrooms, I was eager to see the ultra low ﬂow ﬁ xtures and high-tech sensor faucets that I assumed would be installed. I was perplexed to see that the faucets were the same as one would find in an average, non-green corporate office washroom. There were no motion sensors, no flow reducing aerators. Well, I thought, certainly the urinals and water closets are ultra low ﬂow, then. But this was not the case. All of the ﬁ xtures in the restroom were standard fare; urinals at the 1992 EPA required 1.0 gallons per ﬂush (gpf), water closets 1.6 gpf. I assumed that something had happened at some point during design and that pursuit of the LEED points for water conserving plumbing ﬁ xtures was abandoned. When I asked, both tour guides stated that both points were indeed awarded, the corporate executive running a finger under the water conservation points in the educational brochure that had been speciﬁcally prepared for tours of the building. How could this be, I asked, when clearly nothing was done with the fixtures to earn these points? The architect and corporate executive looked confused and clearly were caught off guard. Were there other ﬁ xtures somewhere else in the building that provided the claimed water savings, I asked? The answer was no. The tour guide’s inability to explain the discrepancy led to only one possible conclusion: LEED points had been awarded for something that wasn’t actually implemented, rendering its Gold certiﬁed status very suspect, in my mind. So what happens when a building sporting a green building certiﬁcation doesn’t actually meet the criteria it was certiﬁed for? So what happens when a building sporting a green building certiﬁ cation doesn’t actually meet the criteria it was certiﬁed for? The answer is nothing. The USGBC green building certiﬁcation review process does not require any site visit for validation of claims. If it does learn of scorecard deﬁciencies, I know of no remediation requirement imposed by the USGBC. No ﬁ nes, no removal of the plaque on the wall, no posted notice on the green building wall of shame, no consequences whatsoever. GETTING TOUGHER ALL THE TIME The only MPR on the list that is likely to be problematic is number 6. The others are straightforward and already put into practice by the large majority of every occupied building in America. Number 6, though, is a biggie and goes to the very heart of the chief criticism of LEED: certified buildings are not performing as claimed. MPR 6 further exacerbates the newish LEED requirement that all certiﬁ ed buildings achieve a minimum 20 percent reduction in energy use | Walls & Ceilings Architect | October 2009
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Walls & Ceilings Architect/October 2009
Walls and Ceilings Architect/October 2009
The Growing Role of Insulation in Sustainable Building
Ward of the Worlds
Green Building "Decertification"
Walls & Ceilings Architect/October 2009