Understanding the Cost of LEED-NC Project Certification

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What does LEED-NC cost?

How much does LEED certification cost? Earning a LEED certification for a project involves several different types of costs, and you have to consider each separately to get an accurate picture.

Let’s envision the cost of LEED as an inverted pyramid with five levels from bottom to top. The bottom level is both the smallest (in size and cost) and the top level is potentially the biggest, but also a place where you have a lot of leeway. We’ll start at the bottom.

1. The fees

The most direct cost is also the smallest: the fees you pay to the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) to register and then to certify your project. These are roughly 3¢–5¢ per square foot for New Construction, depending on the size of the project and whether or not you get the USGBC member discount.

2. Cost of documentation time and effort

Next up the cost pyramid is the time and effort that someone has to put into compiling and submitting the LEED documentation and generally managing the compliance process.

This cost could be for an outside consultant hired just for that task, someone on the staff of the design firm, the contractor, or the owner. This is a big project for someone doing it for the first time, and not such a big deal for someone who has done it enough to have figured out the process and created or purchased effective tracking systems.

It helps if the team is experienced and each person doesn’t need too much coaching to provide her pieces of the documentation. It also depends how many credits you’re going after, and, to some extent, which ones. A few hundred hours to pull everything together for a big complicated project is not out of the ordinary; simple and small projects should take less time and effort.

3. Cost of extra research and design

At the third level, your baseline starts to become very relevant.

If your baseline is the cost to have a design team create a variant on their last few non-LEED projects, then designing to meet LEED standards will take some extra effort. But these added costs shouldn’t be attributed just to LEED—they are the costs of getting a better building.
To realize any high-performing building the team has to develop a range of scenarios, run simulations to determine how they will perform and prepare cost estimates to price them out. They also have to investigate alternative products and materials and explore the feasibility of new technologies. All these steps take time and effort—how much depends a lot on how experienced the team is and how aggressive the performance goals are for the project.

4. The cost of commissioning and modeling for compliance

LEED introduces a few requirements that add costs if they are not already part of the scope of the project. The most obvious of these is commissioning. At $0.50–$1.00 per square foot (or more for a complex building), commissioning may seem like a big investment, but it’s cheap compared to the cost of call-backs, fixes, and inefficiencies that are likely if you don’t do it. For this reason, many large owners, including the federal General Services Administration, require commissioning for all of their projects, so for them it is not an added cost.

Energy modeling is trickier. While energy modeling should be used to inform the design process for every building, they are most useful during early design phases. The models that have to be run for LEED documentation, on the other hand, are an added step, done late in the design process and often with different parameters. These models, or models like them, are also required by code in some places. If the models aren’t code-required then the LEED-specific model does represent an added cost that starts at $5,000–$10,000 and goes up, depending on the complexity of the project. For small projects it is possible to earn a few LEED energy points using the prescriptive path without doing such a model.

WEp1 and WEc3: Water Use Reduction cost premiumsConstruction cost premiums for LEED credits such as WEp1 Water Use Reduction are highly dependent on the savings being attempted and which strategies are chosen to get there. This table from the Cost of LEED report lays out the options.Another LEED-specific action—tied to an optional credit, EAc5 in LEED-NC—is to create a measurement and verification (M&V) plan and install monitoring devices needed to track performance. If you wouldn’t be doing this, then the monitoring equipment and writing and implementing the M&V plan require cost premiums, which are explored in the "The Cost of LEED" report. Like commissioning and energy modeling, M&V brings benefits—it’s the only way to know if your high-performance building is really performing as designed.

5. Costs of construction

Finally, we get to the top of our inverted pyramid, and what might be the biggest part of the cost picture: the hard costs of construction.

If the design team is experienced and the goals aren’t too aggressive, there may be no overall added cost because every cost premium has been offset with savings somewhere else. (For example, a smaller HVAC system resulting from a more efficient envelope.) We know this is possible because lots of projects achieve LEED certification on budgets that were set before LEED was introduced as a requirement. However, various studies have targeted a typical premium for LEED projects at 2%–15%, with the high end including a lot of on-site renewable energy generation for LEED-NC EAc2.

Managing costs of construction

To manage those costs you have to know, at least roughly, the price of a range of specific measures. It helps to know the following for example:

  • Demand-controlled ventilation adds about $1/cfm to the cost of a standard ventilation system
  • Bike racks will cost about $5 per full-time equivalentFull-time equivalent (FTE) represents a regular building occupant who spends 40 hours per week in the project building. Part-time or overtime occupants have FTE values based on their hours per week divided by 40. Multiple shifts are included or excluded depending on the intent and requirements of the credit. (FTE)
  • Showers and changing rooms will cost about $400 per FTE.

These figures, and many more, come from “The Cost of LEED”—a new report from BuildingGreen.

The Cost of LEED report

Going credit-by-credit through LEED for New Construction v2009 (LEED-NC), “The Cost of LEED” itemizes all the common approaches to achieving the performance that the credit requires and offers the view of an experienced cost estimator on the cost implications of adopting those technologies or design solutions.

“The Cost of LEED” can’t tell you what it might cost to locate your project near mass-transit for SSc4.1: Alternative Transportation—that’s too location and project specific for even a rough guess. But it can suggest a figure to put into your budget for any one of hundreds of specific technologies, and it identifies the other credits that might also benefit from that measure (so you can consider the appropriate synergistic benefits).

“The Cost of LEED” is available for purchase as a PDF through the LEEDuser website for $49.

Technical Guides

The Cost of LEED: A Report on Cost Expectations to Meet LEED 2009 for New Construction and Major Renovations

A 47-page report from BuildingGreen, LLC published in April 2010. Cost premiums (if any) are explored for each credit, with alternate scenarios. $49 download.


The Cost of Green Revisited

This paper from Davis Langdon is a sequel to an earlier paper entitled "Cost of Green: A Comprehensive Cost Database and Budget Methodology." This update looks at the cost of green by examining a larger sampling of buildings and looking at additional building types.


GSA LEED Cost Study

This report from GSA is a review of the hard and soft cost implications of achieving LEED certification.


Green Building Costs and Financial Benefits

This oft-cited report from Greg Kats of Capital E is a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis of green buildings.

Publications

Greening Our Built World

This book by Greg Kats is a reference tool for cost-conscious designers interested in exploring the advantages of green buildings.

74 Comments

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Lilian Martins Sustainability Consultant, BArch, MSc MLM Consulting Engineers
Oct 03 2014
LEEDuser Member
6 Thumbs Up

Master Site Registration

Project Location: Brazil

Guys, I have got two queries:

1 - Does a master site registration have any extra registration fee?
2 - We have got a project, which is likely to register as a master site. It contains 4 buildings. However, one of them is not likely to be completed by the sunset of version 3. Should we assume that this is going to be registered on version 4 then?

Thanks very much in advance!

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April Brown Projects Manager, Institute for the Built Environment Oct 09 2014 LEEDuser Expert 530 Thumbs Up

1. Yes, you will have to register the master site first and submit for review, therefore, the costs are $900+ for registration in addition to the review costs. These costs will be extra to the costs for the registration and review of the 4 buildings.
2. You could always register the building in v3 before the deadline and migrate it to v4 if you need to. As long as the project is registered in v3, you will be able to complete that certification and will not be required to migrate to v4. The true "sunset" for v3 (meaning that you are required to complete certification or migrate to the next rating system) will not happen for many years. For example, projects registered in v2.2 are still not required to migrate yet. Hope that makes sense!

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Marcio Alberto Casado Pereira
Jul 25 2014
LEEDuser Member
3477 Thumbs Up

GBCI Invoices have no bank account info!

Folks,

We work on LEED Projects in Brazil and everytime we have to pay a registration, certification, or appeal fee is the same drama: the invoices that are automatically generetated once we submit do not contain ANY bank account info, only a physical address in Pensilvania.

We haven't had one single client so far who was able to complete the transaction with only this little piece of infromation. I don't know how bank transactions work in the US but banks in Brazil need bank account numbers, SWIFT code, and all that. Banks here do not accept simply sending U$22,5 grant checks to a physical addres in Pensilvânia, this is not recognized as a legitimate financial transaction here.

We always have to send an email to GBCI/contact and ask for that, but this procedure delays the process since we always have to wait a few or even several days for their response with the International Wire Transfer Info. We have to ask that to GBCI everytime time our clients have a transaction to be made because we do not feel confident in using the same bank info, since we once we experienced a Project not receiving the payment receipt because we referred to somebody's email and this persons was no longer working in GBCI. So from that time on we decided to just send an email asking the account info everytime. But again, it delays the process and this is all very frustrating.

So my question is: are we doing the fastest procedure? Is there another way to make these transactions without having to ask GBCI for the international wire transfer info everytime? We stress that we will ALWAYS need bank account numbers!

Thanks for sharing your experiences!

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Oscar Mendez Project Manager ASINTELIX
Jul 07 2014
Guest
5 Thumbs Up

Quick Survey LEED O+M v4 for Existing Buildings.

Dear all, it is an honor to be in this group.
I find important investigating the cost-points earned relationship.
Please answer the next survey and let me share in some weeks the results.
https://docs.google.com/forms/d/10Mfbab4MgiO0ewoWmgBQ30sjgDQ2s0dWCpjAf5N...
Best regards

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Benj Herrera LEED AP BD+C
Mar 29 2014
Guest
778 Thumbs Up

LEED BD&C V4 Homes Registration Fees and Certification Fees

We plan to register our project under LEED V4 BD&C Homes Multi Family Low Rise. Please advise which table-registration fee rate should we use - the one for BD&C - which is $900 or the one for LEED Homes? Same thing with certification fee..

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Bilge Ceylan Green Building/Project Management Consultant Individual Entrepreneur
Jan 29 2014
LEEDuser Member
128 Thumbs Up

Review cost of mixed use project: group or single building fees?

I am working on a mixed use project that consists of retail, residential and office spaces. They all rise on a common underground parking lot. The retail, residential and office spaces rise as visually separate "buildings" (i.e., with different facade types), although they are all adjacent to each other up to the fourth floor with connections among them (as if three office and residential towers at each corner of the retail center). USGBC's "Guide to LEED Certification: Commercial" states that different buildings on the same site owned by the same owner can be registered as a group but "individual building registration and review fees apply". How does LEED define "building" in a group certification? Do we register and pay for four building projects (three towers and a retail complex) separately, since they have different functions, as well as a master site? Or can we assume we have one "building" with different functional zones as one physical block? I am assuming that the entire project can be registered as a v4 CS project, since the owner plans to lease or sell all residential, office and retail premises. Is that correct?

Many thanks in advance!

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Eric Johnson Principal Sustainability Project and Cost Manager, Green Future Now Jan 29 2014 LEEDuser Member 3731 Thumbs Up

You might want to look at the MPR Supplemental Guidance.
"Defining ‘one building’
Super-structures can often be perceived as either a string of multiple buildings, or as a single building. This is typically due to light physical connections, such as a single hallway between buildings that are otherwise physically distinct. Such super-structures may, for the purposes of LEED, be considered a single building if both of the following criteria are met.
a) Space that can be included in the gross floor areaGross floor area (based on ASHRAE definition) is the sum of the floor areas of the spaces within the building, including basements, mezzanine and intermediate‐floored tiers, and penthouses wi th headroom height of 7.5 ft (2.2 meters) or greater. Measurements m ust be taken from the exterior 39 faces of exterior walls OR from the centerline of walls separating buildings, OR (for LEED CI certifying spaces) from the centerline of walls separating spaces. Excludes non‐en closed (or non‐enclosable) roofed‐over areas such as exterior covered walkways, porches, terraces or steps, roof overhangs, and similar features. Excludes air shafts, pipe trenches, and chimneys. Excludes floor area dedicated to the parking and circulation of motor vehicles. ( Note that while excluded features may not be part of the gross floor area, and therefore technically not a part of the LEED project building, they may still be required to be a part of the overall LEED project and subject to MPRs, prerequisites, and credits.) of the project that serves a purpose other than parking or the circulation of people is contiguous throughout the structure.
b) All building components of the LEED project that are addressed by LEED prerequisites and pursued credits (systems, materials, etc) can be treated as one, such that separate reviews of the same issues are not required for different portions of the superstructure.
If these criteria are not met, the project may be considered a set of multiple buildings, regardless of whether or not it can satisfy the ‘attached building’ criteria on pages 13-16.
The AGMBC gives direction on the certification process for such projects."

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Aru Sau
Dec 24 2013
Guest
35 Thumbs Up

LEED documentation charges/fees

Howdy All,

I was just wondering what is general fee range per SQFT for LEED certification. I mean charges includes doing the documentation + Cx1. Commissioning (Cx) is the process of verifying and documenting that a building and all of its systems and assemblies are planned, designed, installed, tested, operated, and maintained to meet the owner's project requirements. 2. The process of checking the performance of a building against the owner's goals during design, construction, and occupancy. At a minimum, mechanical and electrical equipment are tested, although much more extensive testing may also be included. + Energy Modeling + IAQIndoor air quality: The quality and attributes of indoor air affecting the health and comfort building occupants. IAQ encompasses available fresh air, contaminant levels, acoustics and noise levels, lighting quality, and other factors. stuff + necessary things. Any ballpark $$ numbers?
I know this is a loaded question but I was wondering if there are any thumb rules kinda thing? In simple how much do you guys charge from the min. to the max. in per SQFT basis?

Appreciating your help deeply. Thank you guys!

Peace!
Aru

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Eric Johnson Principal Sustainability Project and Cost Manager, Green Future Now Jan 29 2014 LEEDuser Member 3731 Thumbs Up

I read the below once and thought it was pretty useful (although a little old now). Mr. Di Nola is at NBI now.
"Big Green: LEED Design Fees
Ralph
Fri Jul 27 09:16:45 EDT 2001

Anja,

I think Paul Braese's response is pretty much ""on the money."" Our firm is doing six LEED certification projects right now (two will be finished by September) and have completed about a dozen eco-charrettes in the past six months.

1. Sustainable Design Charrette: Plan on about two days, depending on the size of the audience and the state of the project. Typical fees would range from $5,000 to $10,000 for this amount of time, including preparation, facilitation and follow up. You DON'T need a lot of experts. What you DO need is a facilitator experienced in green building issues, strategies and technology. See the discussion on eco-charrettes on our web site: www.greenbuildingservices.com. Consultants will want to get paid to attend this meeting, so the best time is at or near the beginning of sustainable design, when you'll want to assemble all of them anyway.

2. LEED Certification: Plan on 150 to 200 hours of professional time to coordinate and assemble all the documentation, PLUS the time of all the consultants to prepare it in a LEED suitable format. Typical costs will run from $10,000 to $20,000, excluding application fees to USGBC.

3. Energy modeling: this should be done for ANY sustainable design project. A good DOE-2 model for a 100,000 sf building should cost $10,000 to $15,000. Adapting it for LEED will cost another $5,000 (to use the ASHRAE method).

4. Building Commissioning: this is required under LEED and a good idea in any case, especially if the owner will be long-term. Typical costs will run $0.40 to $0.60 per sq.ft., with a minimum of $15,000. If you want the measurement and verification credits and the additional commissioning credit, add at least $10,000, depending on the size of the project.

5. Additional services: Technical consulting on such issues as daylighting, passive solar design, eco-roofs, etc. may be needed, depending on the skills/experience of the design team members.

It is a good idea to include language about LEED in the RFP to consultants specifically detailing what will be expected from them for LEED documentation. If you have a clear vision of the program, site and building massing, you could perform a preliminary LEED scoring and include this in the RFP, assigning documentation tasks to the appropriate consultant.

Researching green products and writing green specifications will add additional costs, typically in the $3,000 to $10,000 range. This research and spec writing would be tied to the LEED credits the project is seeking.

Tenant manuals should be included with any sustainable design project that uses any unusual technology (such as underfloor air systems, natural ventilation, operable windows, etc.), so that building occupants can have their expectations modified as needed. This will increase post-occupancy satisfaction and reduce complaints.

We're working right now on a comprehensive set of services similar to those described above, including basic commissioning, for a 100,000 sf renovation of a historic hotel in a city near Philadelphia. Our fee is about $1.00/sf, including the commissioning, or about $100,000.

In our experience, the only additional costs for a LEED Certified and LEED Silver building are in the design team fees, given that certain best practices are part of the base assumption. You may expect to pay more, 1% to 2%, for a LEED building, depending on the nature of the design and how much freedom you have with site variables, construction period ""points"", etc. vs. having, for example, to make a much more energy-efficient design with a conventional building to get the points you need. A LEED Gold Building will likely cost more, unless the design is radically altered from ""conventional"" approaches.

Hope this helps. Feel free to email me with any questions.

Ralph DiNola
Green Building Specialist
LEED Accredited Professional

Green Building Services
16280 SW Upper Boones Ferry Road
NEAC-03
Portland, OR 97224"

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Thomas C. Levi Levi + Wong Design Associates
Oct 23 2013
LEEDuser Member
104 Thumbs Up

Registering A Project- Client's Obligations?

Hi All,

I have a few questions that need answering for a client (to ease their fears) before we can register a project. Here are some points that need clarification:

"If we do not complete the LEED certification process, all that is lost are the initial registration fees right?"

I'm assuming this is not true, because certification requires submitting for either a Combined Review or Split Review (The Split Review being slightly cheaper to back out of in mid-process)?

The next question from the client: "Is there anywhere on the registration application where the Owner has to sign?"

Are there any binding obligations to the client if we register the building?

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Tristan Roberts LEED AP BD+C, Editorial Director – LEEDuser, BuildingGreen, Inc. Oct 23 2013 LEEDuser Moderator

Thomas, the LEED registration fees are not refundable. If you go no further than that, then there will be no additional fees except for your own time.

There are no binding obligations simply from registering, although you will be asked to check off some forms that will set up certain obligations if you complete certification. I don't know where things currently stand on whose signature is required during registration, but I believe that at this point the owner does not need to sign anything.

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Sean Hogan LEED AP RKD Architects
Oct 16 2013
LEEDuser Member
151 Thumbs Up

Payment methods

I'm based outside US and the project is also non US based. I'm about to press the button on the design stage submission. I have informed the client of the fee but what are the payment methods open to him? Credit card? International money order? other?

Sean

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Tristan Roberts LEED AP BD+C, Editorial Director – LEEDuser, BuildingGreen, Inc. Oct 16 2013 LEEDuser Moderator

Sean, credit card is definitely an option (I can say that from experience), and I'm certain that USGBC accepts other payment methods such as money orders.

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Sylvia Washington Founder, LEED AP ID+C Environmental Health Research Associates, LLC
Oct 04 2013
Guest
36 Thumbs Up

Responsibility of Construction Documents Creation

This is my first LEED project as a LEED AP/Building Owner and I am running into an emerging war between the architect who is not LEED accredited and a general contractor-GC who is . The project is in Illinois and the GC is asserting that he can generate my construction documents for a renovation of a 2900 SF building. My question:

Who is normally responsible for the generation of the construction documents (GC, Architect or CXAThe commissioning authority (CxA) is the individual designated to organize, lead, and review the completion of commissioning process activities. The CxA facilitates communication among the owner, designer, and contractor to ensure that complex systems are installed and function in accordance with the owner's project requirements.)?

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Hernando Miranda Owner, Soltierra LLC Oct 04 2013 Guest 7679 Thumbs Up

The CxAThe commissioning authority (CxA) is the individual designated to organize, lead, and review the completion of commissioning process activities. The CxA facilitates communication among the owner, designer, and contractor to ensure that complex systems are installed and function in accordance with the owner's project requirements. is not responsible: it is not something they would typically do. The Architect is usually responsible for standard CA (Construction Administration) submittal reviews, but LEED documentation is not a standard CA submittal. LEED is something extra.

LEED should be treated as standard A&E submittals. This is how I have managed to help my clients achieve a higher LEED rating for theor buildings than they thought was possible (Platinum out of Silver).

For higher LEED rated projects (Gold and Platinum), the GC needs someone to peer review their work. The reason is that the GC represents their own interests. Nothing wrong with that, but people who review their own work tend to have a bias; somethimes small, sometimes large. This is not unique to the GC, it would apply to anyone in any type of business peer reviewing their own work.

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Philip Murphy SODCL
Jul 22 2013
Guest
32 Thumbs Up

Cost of LEED and Influencing the Selection of Credits

Hi all - I hope I am posting this in the right place. Sorry I am pretty new to this site but my experience here has been awesome so far.

I work with a Construction Management firm and I am trying to raise awareness of how different LEED credits have different impacts on project execution/cost internally. The objective is that our team can have a more meaningful discussion with the design team and provide more constructive feedback during project development (and not just sit back and "blindly" accept the decisions).

I am wondering if there is any credit by credit cost analysis out there that I could review? Anything that would help us understand some of the hard/softcosts associated with LEED. I've already downloaded the resources in "the cost of LEED" section of this site. They are great resources and I wonder if there is similar content out there...the more information I have, the easier it will be for me to do this project?

Thanks a million and great site,
Philip Murphy
Quality Manager
SODCL

Ps - I posted this same thread in the wrong section of the site previously. Apologies and I hope this is not spamming of your great site!

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Marcio Alberto Casado Pereira
Jun 11 2013
LEEDuser Member
3477 Thumbs Up

Ordering LEED plaques and certificates

Hi all!

Do the certification fees include plaque and certificate?
Where can I find additional information about avaiable plaque models and their costs?

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Tristan Roberts LEED AP BD+C, Editorial Director – LEEDuser, BuildingGreen, Inc. Jun 11 2013 LEEDuser Moderator

Marcio, I believe a certificate is included in the fees, but not a plaque. There is more information on available plaques and related items at greenplaque.com.

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Hernando Miranda Owner, Soltierra LLC Jun 11 2013 Guest 7679 Thumbs Up

Tristan, a project gets 10 free certificates. That said, as a consultant for the many projects, owners rarely send me one of the certificates. I end up having to buy my own copy for $16.50.

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Katherine Carlin
Jun 04 2013
LEEDuser Member
269 Thumbs Up

USGBC Membership question part deux

Does anyone know if membership in USGBC needs to be maintained from the time of project registration through the final LEED certification in order to access the discounts on certification fees? In other words, if I register in 2013 as a USGBC silver member and also register a project, will I have to renew at the silver level for 2014 and 2015, as the project progresses, to benefit fully from the available membership discounts? Thank you for your advice!

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Hernando Miranda Owner, Soltierra LLC Jun 04 2013 Guest 7679 Thumbs Up

Not currently, but that could change once the USGBC figures out that is an option some small businesses will opt for. It's a simple business matter of spending only what you need to.

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Katherine Carlin Jun 05 2013 LEEDuser Member 269 Thumbs Up

Just an update to say that I did confirm with USGBC and Mr. Miranda is correct: Once you register a project as a Silver or above USGBC member, the LEED certification fees for that project will be subject to the membership discount even if the membership is not renewed the next year.

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Hernando Miranda Owner, Soltierra LLC Jun 05 2013 Guest 7679 Thumbs Up

The certification fee, and appeal fees, are subject to change. Those fee are based on the date a project is submitted for certification. Both member and non-member rates have changed together, at least in the past they have. January is typically the month to check to see if the fees, and fee rules, have changed.

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Katherine Carlin Jun 05 2013 LEEDuser Member 269 Thumbs Up

Well, that's comforting.

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Katherine Carlin
Jun 04 2013
LEEDuser Member
269 Thumbs Up

USGBC Membership - Who joins??

Hi there, I'm acting as a LEED consultant for a large California business. We asked USGBC about membership benefits and they would like the business owner to join USGBC. But, it seems like the benefits go to the LEED professional, and that it would be more appropriate for me to join. Thoughts?
My second question is at what point a membership starts to pay for itself. We have a new construction project and an existing building project to register, but I think that it will be two years before both are certified. Should I wait on the membership until the certification year? Or spend two years ($3000) of membership fees to get registration and certification fees discounts?
Any thoughts on either of these topics are appreciated.
Thanks and best regards!

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Greg Hamra Senior Educator & Lead LEED instructor, Everblue Jun 04 2013 Guest 86 Thumbs Up

Katherine - Did you speak to the national USGBC or to your local USGBC chapter? It sounds like the latter. Individuals can join local chapters while your organization can become a USGBC national member. Employees of USGBC member companies also enjoy some local chapter benefits; generally, a discount on the local chapter membership. However, the national USGBC membership you enable your company to enjoy other benefits including:

► discounts on reference guides
► discounts exam fees (for member company employees)
► you can display the USGBC Member logo on your website and other marketing collateral
► it's a great way to show your company’s commitment to sustainability, and be seen as an industry leader
► discounted project registration.
So if you're going to register a LEED project or two, wouldn't you rather enjoy the member discount? Why wait?

While I realize it's sometimes difficult to put a price-tagLEED Technical Advisory Group (TAG): Subcommittees that consist of industry experts who assist in developing credit interpretations and technical improvements to the LEED system. on the value of your company's image, USGBC membership certainly enhances your brand. In fact, one job might come from this alignment w/the USGBC that could easily pay for the entire membership. A few years ago a LEED student of mine told me (and the whole class) that his company's USGBC membership paid for itself "ten times over."

► This 2-min. video might help you decide: https://vimeo.com/65578066

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Katherine Carlin Jun 04 2013 LEEDuser Member 269 Thumbs Up

Thank you for your thoughtful response. I am going to look into this issue of national vs. local chapter membership.

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Hernando Miranda Owner, Soltierra LLC Jun 04 2013 Guest 7679 Thumbs Up

Greg,

One job does easily pay for a $1,500 Silver Membership. A $300 membership, yes.

I've been working on LEED projects since 1999. I have owned a consulting company for the last 11 years. Projects are multi-year time investments: 3-5 years each, sometimes longer.

The number of LEED projects is decreasing in the U.S., and significantly so in the State of California, where I work, since the State mandated CalGreen.

If you commit to a membership discount as part of your agreement to consult on a LEED project, and the number of projects you can get decreases, then the best solution is to pay the $300 membership fee, and in later years decide whether enough building owners will continue with LEED or not to make the higher membership fee financially worthwhile.

LEED projects are down. Many of my best clients have opted completely out of LEED. Their decisions to cease were based on the expense of getting through the onerous LEED reviews. Until the USGBC sees the business problem I've been seeing first-hand for the last few years--fewer projects, ugly reviews--, it is best to not make a hard ($1,500) membership commitment to the USGBC. Only the largest companies can afford to take the risk. Actually, the USGBC granted the largest companies a huge membership fee discount, unfortunately, at the expense of smaller businesses.

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Katherine Carlin Jun 04 2013 LEEDuser Member 269 Thumbs Up

Thank you, Greg. I'm aware that the membership pricing issue has been controversial (and heartbreaking for some). I appreciate your response.

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Dennis Gundrum
Apr 01 2013
Guest
82 Thumbs Up

LEED Suppliers

Our customer is asking us to become a LEED manufacturer. We make wood and metal fixtures. They also have LED's to light the display. How do we certify to our supplier that we meet the LEED requirements?
Thanks:)

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Greg Hamra Senior Educator & Lead LEED instructor, Everblue Apr 01 2013 Guest 86 Thumbs Up

Dennis, I think you need to set expectations with this customer and others, letting them know there's no such thing as a LEED manufacturer, LEED certified product, or even LEED certified company. LEED/USGBC does not approve products. Some products, strategies, practices, etc. might help a project achieve LEED certification but that does not make the product LEED certified, or even "compliant" ... even more language to stay away from. I think the closest you can come would be to (credibly) describe your products as potentially contributing to some specific credits. Be specific and don't fall into the "credibility-abyss" like so many other product manufacturers who instantly lose cred by misrepresenting their products, their services, and often themselves. (Can I get a witness?)

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Andrew Gil Architect, Associate, LEED AP BD+C. USGBC NY Upstate Board of Directors, HOLT Architects, P.C. Apr 02 2013 Guest 997 Thumbs Up

I am totally on board with everything Greg said, except with the possible exception of describing a product as "LEED compliant"; from my perspective it is a reasonable presumption to assume that this refers to a product being compliant with specific LEED requirements. But I am all over your objection: Nothing puts a MFR farther down my list than when I hear reference to "LEEDS" and "you get a LEED point for using this product". The only thing I hear in translation is 'I don't really very much about the LEED Rating System, but I want you to think that I do"

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Greg Hamra Senior Educator & Lead LEED instructor, Everblue Apr 02 2013 Guest 86 Thumbs Up

Andrew:

-> RE: "LEEDs" ... This is arguably the #1 indicator that someone is familiar with LEED, just not enough to know we're not dealing with a city in England. I start all my LEED classes w/a few slides entitled "LEED vs. Leeds," complete with an image of a Leeds building. (In a recent class, an Englishman commented: "I've been in that building! It's the courthouse.")

-> I agree w/you that some products would could arguably be thought of as "LEED compliant." In fact, early on, I used that term as a handy alternative to anything else I'm "not supposed to claim" related to LEED... until I learned the USGBC objects to that very phrase. I think it comes too close to sounding as if THEY endorse the the product, and dhat's certainly an implication, isn't it? While the principle is one I agree with, the objection to such language is not so much from me as it is from the USGBC themselves. I once read stronger language but can't find it. This should suffice:

https://www.usgbc.org/FAQConsolidation/FAQ_Detail.aspx?Id=Q501400000009v...

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Dennis Gundrum Apr 02 2013 Guest 82 Thumbs Up

Hi Guys,
I am doing a little further investigating. As a manufacturer, I can not buy material unless I am LEED certified. Do you know about this certification?
Thanks
Dennis

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Tristan Roberts LEED AP BD+C, Editorial Director – LEEDuser, BuildingGreen, Inc. Apr 02 2013 LEEDuser Moderator

Dennis, where are you getting that from? Doesn't make any sense to me.

Buildings can be LEED certified, people can be LEED accredited, but I have never hear of a requirement for a person to be accredited to be able to make a purchase.

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Dennis Gundrum Apr 02 2013 Guest 82 Thumbs Up

Sorry Guys,
If we want to ship under FSCIndependent, third-party verification that forest products are produced and sold based on a set of criteria for forest management and chain-of-custody controls developed by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), an international nonprofit organization. FSC criteria for certifying forests around the world address forest management, legal issues, indigenous rights, labor rights, multiple benefits, and environmental impacts. then we have to be certified.
Thanks
Dennis

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Tristan Roberts LEED AP BD+C, Editorial Director – LEEDuser, BuildingGreen, Inc. Apr 02 2013 LEEDuser Moderator

Dennis, you should read up on our MRc7 page and forum.

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shashank jain Environmental Analyst BDSP Partnership
Oct 12 2012
Guest
294 Thumbs Up

Registration fees refunded if you get high certification level

When I gave the exam for LEED 2.2, I read in FAQ's that if a project achieves Gold or Gold + rating, the registration fees is refunded to the team

is it true ? and still valid for LEED 2009 ?

Thanks

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Tristan Roberts LEED AP BD+C, Editorial Director – LEEDuser, BuildingGreen, Inc. Oct 12 2012 LEEDuser Moderator

The refund for registration fees was true for v2.2 Platinum certifications, and expired some years ago.

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Marcio Alberto Casado Pereira
Mar 01 2012
LEEDuser Member
3477 Thumbs Up

Reimbursment for registration fee?

Greetings all,

We have a multiple building project where we registered 5 buildings + master site under the only conditions that LEED Online offers now, which is registration of individual projects (with the 20% discount fee). But once LEED Online's full capability for group project is in place we will roll over our existing registration to that (we were informed by GBCI that this is possible). However, one of these 5 buildings is no longer meeting the MPR for minimum area of 93m², so we will have to exclude it from the group. Can we claim a reimbursement or apply this extra registration fee toward the cost of certification fee later on?

Thanks,

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Emily Catacchio Sustainability Specialist, Wight and Company Mar 07 2012 Guest 7755 Thumbs Up

Marcio,

I am guessing that you cannot, however it can't hurt to ask and you will need to contact GBCI for that. Good luck!

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Andrew Gil Architect, Associate, LEED AP BD+C. USGBC NY Upstate Board of Directors HOLT Architects, P.C.
Feb 29 2012
Guest
997 Thumbs Up

Cost of Certification

Hello Tristan, Others,

I have been reading & tracking as closely as possible the discussions regarding the "cost of LEED" since 2001 and have always been disappointed in the ubiquitous avoidance of the cost of certification (i.e.that is, for the design team efforts, not the contractors' costs that are built into their contract or the actual LEED registration costs). I recall, sometime around 2002 the USGBC had on their website a write-up noting that design teams were reporting certification costs between $20,000 -$60,000, but, a few months after I first saw that, the USGBC took that down and never went close to that subject matter again. Nor have all thoe studies that looked at the construction cost premium (KEMAGreen, Davis Langdon, GSA, EBN, Kats,etc.). Especially with the development of the GBCI and the significant increase in bureaucracy and submittal information required (e.g. PIf1-4), I would really like to see some published consideration of this. Not that it would influence our opinion or preferred design approach, but I feel that the design teams - those that actually bring the USGBC's efforts to fruition - are too often left holding the proverbial bag, and so it would be great to see some recognition/discussion of the subject matter even if everyone agreed that it can only be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. Thanks.

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Eric Johnson Principal Sustainability Project and Cost Manager, Green Future Now Mar 08 2012 LEEDuser Member 3731 Thumbs Up

Try a few of these links
http://www.cleanair-coolplanet.org/for_communities/LEED_links/Analyzingt...
http://www.ihs.gov/NonMedicalPrograms/DES/Documents/LEED_CostEvaluationS...
http://www.fypower.org/pdf/gsaleed.pdf
http://caisinfo.doe.gov/documents/uc200810VG/RSMeansGreen.pdf
Ralph DiNola wrote a great post about this back in 2001 called LEED Design Fees but it doesn't seem to be on the web anymore. Try a Google search and see if you can find it.

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John Amatruda Principal, Vidaris, Inc. Apr 12 2012 LEEDuser Member 85 Thumbs Up

Andrew,
As the lead author for the GSA LEED Cost Study, I can tell you that it did include a section on soft costs (including a pretty detailed breakdown in the appendix). While the study is dated to some degree, it addresses the issue in a relatively comprehensive way.

Overall, I think the GSA study still has a lot of useful insights, particularly on how you approach LEED cost impacts in an overall building project. At the time it was released, it received a lukewarm response from EBN, who seemed to feel that it did not address synergies adequately. After purchasing the EBN/LEED User report, which I find much more schematic than GSA's and much harder to apply, I think the GSA report deserves a second look. It's too bad they have not decided to update the study to match the current LEED requirements - perhaps they'll do it for LEED 2012.

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Kendal Neitzke LEED Administrator, LEED AP O&M, Assoc. AIA MSI General Corporation
Oct 19 2011
LEEDuser Member
643 Thumbs Up

Project Registration Fee - Non-member or USGBC Member

I am looking for a clarification on who qualifies for the USGBC Member Fee for a registered project - does the project owner need to be a USGBC member or is it the LEED Administrator who registers the project? I have not been able to find specific documentation that defines who needs to be the the USGBC member to qualify for the USGBC Member registration fee.

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Emily Catacchio Sustainability Specialist, Wight and Company Oct 19 2011 Guest 7755 Thumbs Up

In my experience the project administrator, the person or company who registers the project, needs to be a member of USGBC in order to recieve the discount. 

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Kendal Neitzke LEED Administrator, LEED AP O&M, Assoc. AIA, MSI General Corporation Oct 19 2011 LEEDuser Member 643 Thumbs Up

Thank you Emily - that is what I had thought, just wanted to confirm it as I am updating projected LEED costs for an upcoming LEED project.

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Breana Detzler Project Designer, Risinger + Associates Oct 25 2011 Guest 457 Thumbs Up

Our office has taken over a project that was originally registered by another firm that was not a USGBC member. If we are members (which we are) can we get the USGBC member pricing for the design and construciton reviews? Or did the project need to be registered initially with a membership?
Do you know how to associate a project with our current membership? Or will GBCI automatically know that we should get the reduced rates when submitting since our account is associated with our membership?

Thanks for any guidance you can provide!

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Tristan Roberts LEED AP BD+C, Editorial Director – LEEDuser, BuildingGreen, Inc. Oct 26 2011 LEEDuser Moderator

Breana, I would assume you could get the member discount for the review. I would contact GBCI for help with this. I am not sure they would automatically konw. Or perhaps when you go to pay it will become apparent one way or the other.

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Devon Bertram Sustainability Manager YR&G
Sep 23 2011
LEEDuser Member
3446 Thumbs Up

Appeal Fees Up

Just a note that appeal fees are up to $800 for some EA and EQ credits (primarily EAp1, EAp2, EAc1, EQp1 and EBOMEBOM is an acronym for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance, one of the LEED 2009 rating sytems. EAc2). See updates for more details:
http://www.gbci.org/org-nav/announcements/11-09-16/Energy_Credit_Appeal_...

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Alejandro Matos LEED-AP ADDS
Jun 28 2011
Guest
76 Thumbs Up

LEED Campus Certification with complex buildings conditions

Hi Everyone!....just joining the LEED forum family.
I am evaluating a case for LEED Campus Cert. in order to prepare a service proposal, but complex conditions are encountered in the site. I just read the MPR and the 2010 AGMBC, and while reading previous comments on this website related to the subject, some things are clear, but some are more confusing.
Questions:
1- Whether the pre-approved Master Site credits are to be applied to each individual LEED project certification, when applicable to one or more projects, or these credits are consumed when applied to the first LEED project certification?

2- A very particular condition in the site is as follow: Building A (BA) is a 7 story existing tower (only 1st and 3rd floor are owned ), Building C (BC) is a 4 story existing building in operation. As an in-fill building, a third will be inserted occupying the opened space separating BA and BC, named Building B (BB), a three story new construction building, intended for leed certification. BB is attached to both BA and BC, and will be connected to both in the 1st and 3rd floor with BA and connected through 1st floor with BC. How should LEED certification process be approached in this case where a new building connects to and facilities are shared with adjacent buildings?
At this moment i have considered to use LEED-BD&C. Please correct me if i am wrong. I will greatly appreciate any opinion or suggestion to solve this uncertain case.
AM

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Tristan Roberts LEED AP BD+C, Editorial Director – LEEDuser, BuildingGreen, Inc. Nov 14 2011 LEEDuser Moderator

The master credits are not "consumed" -- they can be applied to multiple projects.

For your question on the attached buildings, have you checked out the Minimum Program Requirements supplemental guidance? There are some great tips in there. Let us know if you have more specific questions relative to that guidance.

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Hernando Miranda Owner, Soltierra LLC Apr 30 2012 Guest 7679 Thumbs Up

On-Site Renewable Energy is one case of a credit that is "consumed" by the individual projects.

Assuming a project has 100kW of site-wide photovoltaic systems, and it has two LEED projects. The 100kW is split between them. If project one "consumes" 50kW and project two 30kW then 80kW is used up.

Of the total site-wide system 20kW would not be "consumed." The owner has the option to pursue a third LEED project and use the 20kW they have left over.

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Barbara McCrary Mechanical Engineer, PE, LEED AP BD&C HHB Engineers, P.C., Prattville, AL
Dec 23 2010
LEEDuser Member
1000 Thumbs Up

2004 GSA Report on Cost of LEED

The General Services Administration (GSA) also has a very helpful study they published in 2004 on the cost of LEED in GSA projects. It's a bit dated but is also helpful in getting a rough idea on LEED costs. It can be dowloaded here: http://www.wbdg.org/ccb/browse_doc.php?d=90

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Sayeed Muhammad Principal Consultant, Green Building Consultants (S) Pte Ltd Mar 21 2011 Guest 174 Thumbs Up

Our customer asking us to provide ROI for the LEED. Does any one have an Idea where to get compiled set of Savings for each of the credits. For example the client spent a lot of money to pave the entire site with intelocking blocks. How to calculate savings for this. Is there any publication avaialbel out ther for LEED ROI similar to COST OF LEED.

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Omar Katanani
Apr 16 2010
LEEDuser Member
8021 Thumbs Up

Cost of LEED report - Internationl projects

Hi,
Does the report also covers cost issues for undertaking LEED certifications outside the US? Such as in the Middle-East?
Thanks.

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Nadav Malin USGBC LEED Faculty, President, BuildingGreen, Inc. Apr 16 2010 LEEDuser Moderator

Good question, George! The report focuses on construction costs for the high-performance measures that would be used to achieve each credit, based on the specific experiences of a team of designers and cost estimators in the Northeastern United States. The particular cost premiums that it provides would probably not be directly applicable to projects outside the U.S., but the list of suggested measures and the methodology for getting at the cost implications of each credit would likely still be quite useful.

So, if you have access to your own cost information for some of these measures that you can integrate into the information in this report, I think it would be quite useful. If you don't, it might still be interesting, but less valuable.

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Richard Walker Sr Vice President, Transwestern Sustainability Services Apr 22 2010 Guest 128 Thumbs Up

This report should NOT be called the cost of LEED. It is clearly NC. When dealing with an existing building the costs and benefits are totally based on the facility that you're working in. When are we going to stop generalizing?

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Michael Heacock Architect, LEED AP, Michael Heacock Architects + LEED Consultants Apr 22 2010 Guest 134 Thumbs Up

Finally! I'm really pleased with the presentation and report. Thank you for sharing your research and providing this useful tool, which will greatly enhance decision making for Owners and Project Teams. I am very happy to see both hard cost data and soft cost estimates discussed openly. Now we just need this information for EBOMEBOM is an acronym for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance, one of the LEED 2009 rating sytems. and LEED-H.

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Tristan Roberts LEED AP BD+C, Editorial Director – LEEDuser, BuildingGreen, Inc. Apr 22 2010 LEEDuser Moderator

Michael, I'm glad you like the report. We worked hard on it and we're glad it's going to be useful to you.

Richard, a number of people have asked if this report is relevant to LEED-EBOMEBOM is an acronym for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance, one of the LEED 2009 rating sytems., and my answer has been that while there may be some pieces that are relevant, it's not addressed directly. As you point out there are a lot of unique challenges with EBOM buildings.

We tried to make that clear in the title of the report, "The Cost of LEED: A Credit-by-Credit Look at the Cost of LEED-NC v2009."

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Jonathan Weiss May 06 2010 LEEDuser Member 2183 Thumbs Up

This looks like a good report - like many earlier "cost of LEED" studies, it will be incumbent on us in the practice community to use the information well - e.g apply it and scale it as appropriate to our own projects. The lengthy list of assumptions at the beginning of the report (p. 3) are really important to the accurate use of the data. I look forward to delving into it!

Thanks, BuildingGreen team for developing this.

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hao zhang May 23 2010 Guest 123 Thumbs Up

This report looks very interesting.indeed it's a report focus on leed NC projects,i hope more accurate information can be shared for the previous leed projects,inclusive of acutal operation performance.BTW,do you have some figures about leed proects in China or asia?thanks l lot!;)

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Nadav Malin USGBC LEED Faculty, President, BuildingGreen, Inc. May 24 2010 LEEDuser Moderator

If other LEED users have cost information on their projects--what, if any, premiums they've paid to accomplish the performance required to earn certain credits, perhaps they'll post those here.

We hope to add information soon about how projects are achieving LEED certification in China--though it may take a bit longer before we can offer any cost information. Do you have any experiences to share?

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David Wardell President & CEO, Leed International, LLC Jul 10 2010 Guest 172 Thumbs Up

George, if you have any questions concerning LEED costs and compliancy in the Middle East, please visit our website at http://www.leedintl.net. Fillout our "contact us" webpage and a representative will contact and assist you with any questions or information. Leed International has offices in Riyad, KSA.

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Landon Chapman Graduate Architect, LEED AP, MSKTD & Associates, Inc. Jul 13 2010 LEEDuser Member 306 Thumbs Up

Thank you for the work in putting this report together! Just a small note for something that seems beneficial to see in an addendum--particularly for discussion with building owners--is the return on investment for each credit (daylight building vs. non-daylight), in terms of the cost savings in utility bills, etc. over a certain time period. While I realize there are many variables in this, it would be helpful to have a range to reference within the report.

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Michael Smith Architect, Zivic and Hudle Architects Sep 20 2010 Guest 114 Thumbs Up

Can you post a copy of the report deleting the actual cost numbers, so that we can see how it is structured and what is covered?

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Tristan Roberts LEED AP BD+C, Editorial Director – LEEDuser, BuildingGreen, Inc. Sep 20 2010 LEEDuser Moderator

Michael, I'm afraid not—the way the report is structured, showing options on how to earn the credits, is part of the content. We couldn't just strip out the cost data. Also it would be a lot of work!

If you buy the report and it doesn't meet your needs we'll give you a refund.

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Tristan Roberts LEED AP BD+C, Editorial Director – LEEDuser, BuildingGreen, Inc. Sep 21 2010 LEEDuser Moderator

Michael, one other thing I forgot to mention—a sample page from the report is shown above. That should give you a sense of how it's structured and what kind of information you'll find.

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Sherry Bonelli LEED Project Manager/Consultant, BudSprout LLC -- SucceedAtLEED.com Nov 22 2010 LEEDuser Member 856 Thumbs Up

Is there any way for us to enlarge the sample page above? With the report, are the costs fixed or is it a formula where we can enter costs and based on our particular project we will get an idea of what the LEED portion of the project will costs?

Sherry Bonelli, LEED Green Associate
http://www.SucceedAtLEED.com

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Tristan Roberts LEED AP BD+C, Editorial Director – LEEDuser, BuildingGreen, Inc. Nov 23 2010 LEEDuser Moderator

Sherry, an enlarged image is not available, sorry. Of course, it is included inthe report, and we offer a full money-back guarantee if you purchase it and aren't satisfied.

The report shows the cost information in two ways—one, as a hard cost, and two, as a cost premium over conventinoal practice. In relevant credits, such as WEc3, various methods of earning the credit are shown, with respective costs. All the info is broken down by credit.

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Eric Johnson Principal Sustainability Project and Cost Manager, Green Future Now Feb 09 2011 LEEDuser Member 3731 Thumbs Up

Sherry,

Go to your browser and zoom in. Or just buy the report, for general purposes it's a nice guide.

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Mike Barker Principal : Energy / Electrical Engineer, BuildingPhysics South Africa Feb 24 2011 LEEDuser Member 1476 Thumbs Up

The true value of this document is that it allows you to show your client ( and the Professional Team ) an independant take on the costs of a LEED project ?

Especially for projects outside continental USA. Many QSs and Architects have no idea of what the costs should be and it helps instill confidence in the LEED process.

In some ways it aslo helps keep the construction material suppliers honest. I pull out the report and show them where they are overpricing ;-) This leads to some interesting conversations !

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Rick Alfandre Principal, Alfandre Architecture Jul 21 2014 LEEDuser Member 384 Thumbs Up

We are dealing with a project that may have difficulty reaching certification. If, after final review, you are beneath the required point threshold, is the process of adding a credit (EA 6 Green power, for instance) a simple matter of an appeal, or is adding a credit a different issue, and cost?

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Andrew Gil Architect, Associate, LEED AP BD+C. USGBC NY Upstate Board of Directors, HOLT Architects, P.C. Jul 21 2014 Guest 997 Thumbs Up

Rick, Check out the USGBC's "LEED Certification Policy Manual" (https://www.leedonline.com/irj/go/km/docs/documents/usgbc/leed/config/terms/LeedCertificationManual/LEEDCertificationPolicyManual.pdf") , Section 14.1 (page 15). Andrew

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