New USGBC Membership Fee Structure

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Owner Soltierra LLC Sep 17 2012 Guest
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The USGBC announced new membership fee structures: Organizational, Silver, Gold and Platinum.The change will be effective October 1, 2012.

https://new.usgbc.org/join

Small companies where able to become members for $300 per year and get member discount pricing for LEED project registration and certification. That appears to no longer be the case as of 10/01/2012. To continue to get the discounts a company has to purchase a Silver membership at $1,500 per year. Upgrading of a membership by contacting the USGBC.

This change, if I am interpreting it correctly, benefits larger companies over small. The few LEED projects a firm has the more diffuclt to absorb the cost. If a firm cannot offer the registation and certification member discounts to projects they are proposing on then a larger company that offer the discount can gets a finacial advantage.

This is not a good change for small business owners.

59 Comments

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Brad Miller Principal Environnmental Concepts Company
Aug 06 2013
LEEDuser Member
16 Thumbs Up

I am also an independent LEED

I am also an independent LEED consultant that is considering having to change my membership from regular to Silver because I have some large projects coming up that will have a substantial noticeable increase in certification fees to my clients that I cannot justify just telling them the USGBC raised their standard fees.

I hope to recover this substantial and unwarranted membership fee increase by spreading it through a number of projects each year (if those projects ever happen given the recent trends of large A/E's and GC's minimizing outsourcing LEED work to independent consultants).

Many trade associations base their membership fees on gross revenue. What is wrong with the USGBC doing that?

I think it is time that small, independent LEED/Sustainability consultants develop a trade association to protect our interests. Maybe charge $20 a year to join?

Any ideas?

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Michael Smithing Director - Green Building Advisory Colliers International
Feb 28 2013
LEEDuser Member
1726 Thumbs Up

Change in National Membership Organization

Through some gross lack of coordination, my organization has three memberships to the USGBC. We are in the process of consolidating these into a single membership, and I will need to change my corporate access ID.

Will this have any impact on the projects which we have registered and are currently working on?

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David Ross Principal BSA Architects
Feb 14 2013
Guest
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USGBC Tiered Membership - Buying a Platinum Credential

What do people think of this new tiered membership having the same designations as the levels of LEED sustainability achievement? I'm not one to frequently jump up and down about things but this one strikes me as just so wrong.

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Hernando Miranda Owner, Soltierra LLC Feb 14 2013 Guest 5813 Thumbs Up

Only the largest companies can afford the highest membership level. Those companies would claim the highest membership level as a marketing advantage. It wouldn't be good marketing not to.

The largest companies already, in my opinion, get the highest profile LEED projects, and earn the highest LEED Fees. The LEED Fees are often claimed as zero-added cost, but in reality they are folded into the overall fees their clients pay.

Claiming LEED is no added-cost is okay of the project has a multimillion dollar A&E fee. But smaller scale projects do not have that luxury.

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Bill Swanson PE, LEED AP, Integrated Architecture Feb 14 2013 LEEDuser Expert 13732 Thumbs Up

It's up there with amusement parks offering gold passes (fast passes) for an extra fee. It lowers the enjoyment of the park for everyone else while watching others walk past to the front of the line.

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Sarah Karle Membership Manager U.S. Green Building Council
Sep 18 2012
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value and Choice

Thank you to everyone who’s commented on the new membership structure – USGBC is listening to your feedback and we want to address a few of your points:

- This change was undertaken in order to more effectively meet the needs of our member organizations and offer member organizations the opportunity to get engaged at the level of their choice.
- LEED certification and registration savings are available at the Silver level benefits package ($1,500). Savings for LEED range from $300 to $5,000 and those savings in and of themselves can often justify the cost (not to mention the other benefits available at that tier). Consultants and project teams that don’t directly realize project savings can pass the decision to join to their clients – many times the client will see the justification based on project savings alone.
- Your feedback will help us to refine the membership offerings. If your organization feels that the new membership structure doesn’t effectively address your needs – just reach out to us and we will find a solution. Our goals are inclusion, choice, value and engagement – we want everyone to engage with USGBC at a level that is appropriate for their organization.
- These changes will not affect current members until their member renewal date so all members will continue to receive certification and registration discounts until their renewal date. Upon renewal members will be asked to select a benefits package that best suits their needs.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at membership@usgbc.org with questions. The new membership restructure is a sincere effort to more effectively engage with our members. Your comments will help us take the next steps forward as we continue to enhance and improve the member experience.

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Hernando Miranda Owner, Soltierra LLC Sep 18 2012 Guest 5813 Thumbs Up

I expected the USGBC would state they got the new fees right. They didn't. There is another way to do this that does not crush small firms.

Silver (Silver Provisional) level starts at $300. If no projects are registered or certified using the firm's LEED membership then the membership fee remains at $300 and is classified as Organizational.

For each project registered or certified there is no member rate discount until the $1,500 Silver membership fee is reached. Then the membership is classified as Silver.

Why the above makes sense for small business owners, is that the membership discount is not always used, and the number of projects a firm has is too small. In other words, small businesses paying the $1,500 annual fee will likely end up paying more fees over time to the USGBC/GBCI than of the firm opted out the Silver membership.

Before the USGBC states, "just opt out then, that is your choice," reconsider the negative financial impact on small businesses. If the the USGBC doesn't change the new fee structure, at least I will consider the organization to have transitioned from a small business supporter, to on that doesn't care much for small business, and is now supporter of the largest firms.

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Sarah Karle Membership Manager, U.S. Green Building Council Sep 19 2012 Guest 75 Thumbs Up

Hernando – this approach enables USGBC to more effectively address the needs of our members. If the benefits packages do not work for your organization, we want to work with you to find a solution that does. It’s the start of a conversation that will help our organization continue to grow and evolve.

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Hernando Miranda Owner, Soltierra LLC Sep 19 2012 Guest 5813 Thumbs Up

Sarah -

This is simply too much of a fee change for the smallest USGBC members.
500% grossing under $250k.
300% grossing under $1M.
200% grossing under $5M.
Same fee grossing under $25M.
40-70% reduced fees for all firms grossing over $25M.

I have been a USGBC member since 1997. I have also donated more than 3,000 hours of my personal time to the development of LEED; as vice-chair of the IEQ TAGLEED Technical Advisory Group (TAG): Subcommittees that consist of industry experts who assist in developing credit interpretations and technical improvements to the LEED system. (Technical Advisory Group), as a developer of LEED CI, as a member of the WE TAG before one officially existed, and as a (mostly unpaid) developer of the LEED CI Pilot Reference Guide. I also sat in several Board Meeting Conference calls as part of the TAG work I did.

What I can tell you is that the statement I in this thread "The way it used to be..." is reasonably accurate to what was stated to me, and others, when membership fees first started.

Small firms have no guarantee the fee discounts will be used often enough to justify the cost. The LEED market is heading down and fast.

I offered a fairly reasonable solution: Provisional Silver. It protects the smallest businesses. It helps earn more money for the USGBC.

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Karen Joslin principal, Joslin Consulting Sep 19 2012 LEEDuser Member 1536 Thumbs Up

Sarah I think perhaps you all believe that there is a "value" to me as a consultant that should be included in my membership fees. LEED clients include LEED APs on their teams right now just to get a credential posted and get the member fee discounts. Design firms (and others) currently offer that person's "involvement" regardless of whether a true LEED professional actually hepls out in the design an dplanning process. Usually the LEED AP is stuck with simply corraling data and working online where the design architects and engineers don't want to waste their time.
When a project team engages a true LEED consultant who can work across all the disciplines, facilitate the desired LEED Online engagement by the right team members, and deliver a successful and sincere green project, they shouldn't be penalized by having to pass through a higher cost (or eating it) for their certificaiton. I truly believe that much of the USGBC staff is simply not aware of how the LEED process works today - even in your largest most visible design partners. And I know this firsthand - I'm not whining about competition - just pointing out that the Beltway Bubble might be at work even in our green world.
I also do not agree with Hernando's psoposed solution for the same reason - why penalize my costs? Simply put - there should be an organizational level for organizations who want to participate but will never have to pay the cert fees on actual projects. Another level for small dollar firms - maybe $600 but certainly NOT $1,500 for heaven's sake - who do pay the certification fees. Is noone in DC hearing the biggest complaint about actual LEED certification is the fees the projects have to pay to USGBC? Do you not hear the endless comments about how much money USGBC is raking in in fees for this and that? There is a ton of skepticism out in the country that needs to be addressed before you hike project costs. THanks!

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Hernando Miranda Owner, Soltierra LLC Sep 19 2012 Guest 5813 Thumbs Up

Karen,

The correct answer is limit membership fees increases to no more than $100, or 25% max.

I offered an alternative because I know the management at USGBC and how they operate. More money is the key. The people running the show have backgrounds in sales, not in green architecture and engineering.

We won't get anywhere insisting on a smaller fee change. The decision has been made, and like the USGBC has worked for the last 10 years, once they make a decision they will not change their minds. Not about financial issues, not about certification reviews, not about the rating system changes they decide LEED must have.

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Bill Swanson PE, LEED AP, Integrated Architecture Sep 19 2012 LEEDuser Expert 13732 Thumbs Up

How about a $500 option for firms that just want the existing discounts, voting, and membership directory? More value and choice.

It's about who needs who more. Does USGBC rely on small consultants more or do the small consultants rely on USGBC more?

@ Hernando, Like most decisions it just about how to spin it so people accept it. Even if it's just a griping acceptance. There's not exactly a level field to negotiate fee rates.

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Hernando Miranda Owner, Soltierra LLC Sep 19 2012 Guest 5813 Thumbs Up

I have done a lot of marketing for the USGBC to clients. I have also donated an extraordinary amount of my personal time to the USGBC.

I pass on the member discounts entirely to the owner. I charge 0% markup on the fees. So, my firms gets ZERO benefit. The owner gets a benefit to help convince them to purse LEED at all. Yes, the amounts to an owner are small, but the savings is being passed on from an owner with higher income, as a new added cost to a small consultant with low income.

The new fees are anti-small business. Larger firms get a huge benefit, reduced fees.

P.S. To compete with large firms small businesses need to swallow a new USGBC fee which is a much larger percent of the gross income of the small business.

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USGBC IP Account Sep 20 2012 Guest 184 Thumbs Up

All – we appreciate the comments and dialog. You’ve provided a number of great suggestions that we are considering as we seek to address these concerns. We plan to reach out to all member organizations prior to their renewal in order to ensure that they understand the new structure and how their organization fits. If the new membership packages don’t meet the needs of your organization, we encourage you to contact us so we can find a solution that does. Your feedback is a vital part of this transition and it will only serve to strengthen the new membership offerings.

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Tristan Roberts LEED AP BD+C, Editorial Director – LEEDuser, BuildingGreen, Inc. Sep 20 2012 LEEDuser Moderator

Thanks for posting, USGBC. If you log in to your personal account while accessing LEEDuser through IP authentication, then we can know who you are on the forum!

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Sarah Karle Membership Manager, U.S. Green Building Council Sep 20 2012 Guest 75 Thumbs Up

Sorry about that - the previous comment was from Sarah Karle at USGBC.

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Nadav Malin USGBC LEED Faculty, President BuildingGreen, Inc.
Sep 17 2012
LEEDuser Moderator

What's the problem?

I can understand being a little disappointed by this change, but come on, get real. USGBC and LEED have created this entire business opportunity that you're taking advantage of, and you think that $1,500/year for preferred rates is unfair? 

Yes, it's a huge leap from $300, but that was a ridiculously low rate for people whose business is built on LEED. The fact is that USGBC is no longer bringing in lots of money from AP exams and reference guides, so they have to generate revenue somehow. This seems like a pretty fair distribution of costs to me, aligning those costs with value people get from the organization.

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Karen Joslin principal, Joslin Consulting Sep 17 2012 LEEDuser Member 1536 Thumbs Up

Nadav, with all due respect, I am a two person firm who does all LEED all the time and have successful many projects. But at the end of the day my total annual revenue is less than $150,000 gross!And they did not create the business opportunity - and I am not "taking advantage. I spend countless hours defending the continual beta mode of all the tools USGBC/GBCI keep implementing - basically missionary work and it has been non-stop for 7 years now. The business opportunity you refer to is one I have personally built for myself with a whole big benefit going right back to USGBC when all is said and done!

So no, re-distributing the massive costs of all the continual change, do-overs, staff changes, overreaching organizational decisions that no corporation could survive on the backs of the many experts like me out here is not even remotely fair. And I'm actually shocked that you are one calling me out - I'm one of those experts around who cannot afford to pay USGBC for the "honor" of joining the faculty even though I AM the one teaching Universities, large global corporations, school districts, contractors, and many, many architects and engineers how to use the LEED tools on a daily basis! Yikes!

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Hernando Miranda Owner, Soltierra LLC Sep 17 2012 Guest 5813 Thumbs Up

Nadav,

We have known each other for many years. It is the consultants, like myself, who have been marketing LEED free-of-charge for the USGBC that have helped grow LEED to what is today.

If the change was appropriate, say 25-50%, that is okay. But, 500% increase effective in less than 2-weeks?

You need to consider the impacts to the large number of small business working on LEED projects. The membership fees used to be based on gross income. Now it is a flat rate.

Little company = Big Cost Increase
Large company = Cost Savings

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Susan Walter Sr Project Architect, Wilmot/Sanz Sep 17 2012 LEEDuser Expert 12113 Thumbs Up

I'm anticipating a difficult conversation with my boss. The Silver membership cost increase is 'erased' with the savings to register the first project but he still isn't going to like it. He feels everything I do adds costs with minimal positive impact. Good thing I'm plucky.

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Hernando Miranda Owner, Soltierra LLC Sep 17 2012 Guest 5813 Thumbs Up

Susan,

I have marketed LEED to owners, and one thing that was very helpful was telling them that they got a discount on behalf of the USGBC membership I held.

There is no cost savings for firms like mine, LEED consulting, not full building design architecture. The USGBC membership fee is a cost 100% absorbed by my business.

It would be a huge business disadvantage to not offer a LEED fee discount. The change is biased towards largest companies.

$1,500 was the membership fee paid by companies with gross receipts between $5-25M. Firms, like mine, under $250k gross paid $300.

My small business, with 1/20th to 1/100th, the income of a large firm has the same cost.

A firm that grossed $50M paid $3,500 and now pays $1,500.

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Nadav Malin USGBC LEED Faculty, President, BuildingGreen, Inc. Sep 17 2012 LEEDuser Moderator

Sorry Karin,

I didn't intend to call you out in that way. And I do appreciate what a challenge it has been to work with LEED through USGBC's myriad missteps. But I also remember how few projects were even considering green measures before LEED came along, and how quickly the market grew once it did. I guess the credit should be shared.

Hernando--there must be lots of ways of looking at these numbers, because I'm now hearing a bunch of grousing about the change from people at large firms as well. They're almost as worked up about it as you are ;-)

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Hernando Miranda Owner, Soltierra LLC Sep 17 2012 Guest 5813 Thumbs Up

Nadav,

EBN would not the company it is without LEED. The USGBC would not be the company it grew to without EBN.

The changed fees benefit firms grossing more than $25M per year. The largest impact falls on the smallest business, those under $250k, five times the prior cost.

If my firm grossed more than $1M per year I wouldn't grouse.

The USGBC can expect the smallest LEED consulting firms will be put at a competitive disadvantage, or they will simply cease to exist.

The fee updates should have been an incremental change, not one fell swoop like this. This would reduce the gripping, and also benefit the USGBC. The way it has been done only damages the USGBC further.

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Hernando Miranda Owner, Soltierra LLC Sep 17 2012 Guest 5813 Thumbs Up

I also wonder why the letter from the USGBC CEO did not explain that to receive the same membership benefits a firm needed to upgrade to a higher membership level. The letter is written to be positive, but what is really going on is a huge membership fee increase for all forms grossing under $5M.

I would have completely missed this if I didn't follow through and check what the new pricing was. It is good business practice to know what your costs area. I was shocked to see the extent of the change. It is an unexpected loss on the net income side of the ledger sheet.

What also struck me about the new fee is, it is the same amount of money I donated to send eight kids living in a disadvantaged area --parents with minimal income-- to a learning camp at one of the most highly regarded LEED Platinum projects there is.

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Gordon Ingerson Oct 02 2012 Guest 33 Thumbs Up

A few thoughts, trying to put the issues in terms of their impact upon the interests of the USGBC:

1. Not all those consultants who are involved with LEED are specialized in LEED consulting only. I am a partner at an architectural firm that attempts to advance the cause of sustainability, and LEED has been a useful tool in our efforts. I don't know how much USGBC and GBCI are aware of this, but the market out there is extremely competitive and everything goes into the mix when competing for projects; this is not 2008, and we have a hard enough time getting fees that pay the bills. It is not possible for us to pass on increases to our clients, or to have them pay for the non-membership registration fees and then pocket the difference (this would be equivalent to taking a percentage on top of permit fees!). Our clients want to see all of our actual costs, and competitors will certainly absorb these costs- which particulary benefits large firms, as the cost is very small compared to their overall revenue stream. If this goes through USGBC will see another large drop in their membership as the large firms will be the only ones left, and even they are becoming fewer as they continue to consolidate.

2. This fee structure will also add one more item to the scales when clients weigh their options on how to approach their sustainability goals. Other systems are available for them to choose from, and the options become more attractive as the costs and bureaucracy of LEED increase. This sort of action actually encourages the growth of competing systems; I would equate this to putting a tariff on sustainabilty.

3. I deal with a number of clients, including government agencies, and they are all seriously considering dropping LEED certification as a requirement. The process has become difficult enough, with the increasing emphasis on meeting arcane requirements rather than achieving the goal of sustainability, as well as changing MPRs and requirements in the middle of a project. I do not think it advisable, from the USGBC's point of view, to add another item to the negative column.

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Michelle Reott LEED AP BD+C, ID+C, O+M, Managing Principal, Earthly Ideas LLC Oct 03 2012 LEEDuser Expert 3474 Thumbs Up

I want to say that I had a good conversation with Sarah Karle on 9/25/12 and I am hopeful that USGBC will respond to the concerns of small businesses by developing some kind of less painful transition/modifications to the new structure. Yet, I would encourage everyone who is concerned about this issue to politely e-mail membership@usgbc.org with your thoughts, fill out the survey, and even request to Customer Service that Membership call you if you want to have a constructive dialogue. USGBC needs to hear from its members - especially small firms who I believe are the heart of USGBC.

I did tell Sarah that I valued the service of discounted certification and registration fees and the thought of clients buying multiple years of $1,500 memberships to get the discounts doesn’t add up for a typical construction project that takes multiple years to design, construction, and certify. I also suggested a membership level that includes the discounts without a webinar subscription should be something to consider.

However, if I had found this forum when I first got the e-mail from USGBC I might have voiced a lot of the same gripes as Hernando and Karen. I was flabbergasted by the major changes/increases with little notice and felt it was an attack on small businesses who have contributed so much to this movement.

Nadav, as much as respect you and your work, I do have to say I was saddened by your post. I had my consulting company before USGBC even existed (1992) and have doing green building consulting exclusively since 1995. I didn’t build my business on LEED. LEED came into the arena and became the game in town - to the detriment of existing green building programs. Let’s get real - the market is tough now with the economy and with every Tom, Dick, and Mary with an English degree claiming they can do LEED certification with no design or construction experience. Green building used to be about doing the right thing - not how many points you earned on a scorecard. I’m not saying that LEED hasn’t done some fabulous things for green building - like giving high performance issues a seat at the table - but there has been a dark underbelly of bureaucracy and incompetency too. (Karen, your points on USGBC and beta are spot on! ) I dropped my ASHRAE membership to cut expenses this year and to have USGBC quintuple my dues is hard to take. I feel that USGBC continues to make decisions and changes that are crippling small businesses who have supported (and now defended) it - this is just another example.

Hernando - I hope there is some LEEDuser forum at Greenbuild that we might meet at. You have no fear in speaking your mind and trying to get the powers to be to see reason on this and other posts in LEEDuser. Thanks for starting this forum.

I am curious also if anyone has any concerns about the higher level memberships (Gold and Platinum) getting special customer service. In my naïve view, there’s something wrong with that model for a non-profit.

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Tristan Roberts LEED AP BD+C, Editorial Director – LEEDuser, BuildingGreen, Inc. Oct 03 2012 LEEDuser Moderator

Michelle and everyone -- please join LEEDuser at Greenbuild at "K13 - LEEDuser: Tips and Tricks from the Field," Friday Nov. 16 9:30 AM – 10:30 AM! Room 2022, West Building

Also visit us at Booth 1633S.

 

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Peggy White White + GreenSpec Oct 03 2012 LEEDuser Member 1334 Thumbs Up

Very thoughtful note Michelle - yes, it is important to keep the conversation going and to remember our manners, even when we're upset.

Re your question about special customer service for those who pay at the Gold/Platinum level: I was gobsmacked when I read that, and I can think of no rational justification for such a move against the general membership. People constantly express their frustration about the non-reponsiveness of the USGBC, and here they seem to be saying 'if you pay us a LOT of money, we'll return your phone call and be nice to you'. Implying - 'as for the rest of you, tough luck'.

Customer service - it's kind of the keystone to success. What could they be thinking?

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Hernando Miranda Owner, Soltierra LLC Oct 03 2012 Guest 5813 Thumbs Up

A discussion about the history or LEED

Originally, the original board members of the USGBC believed in the concept of "deep-pockets." Membership fees and the cost of certification were skewed intentionally. It is also interesting to note that the USGBC was originally based in the California BayA bay is a component of a standard, rectilinear building design. It is the open area defined by a building element such as columns or a window. Typically, there are multiple identical bays in succession. Area.

Deep-pockets A&E firms pay more because they get more, and better, LEED projects, and have more gross income. Deep-pockets project owner pay more because the cost is "noise" level for large projects.

Small-pocket A&E and consulting firms pay less because they get less, and often not the best of the LEED projects, and they don't make much money. Small projects, and small firms, might otherwise steer clear of LEED. The "real" cost of certification would be prohibitive.

The difference in membership fees and certification fees grew from a 6:1 to a 10:1 difference. I don't remember exactly when in time, but more or less, with the release of LEED NC v2.2.

Moving forward, the USGBC relocated to Washington D.C. Since that time the USGBC and LEED have operated, more and more, as a "beltway" type of organization. Increasing paperwork and an ever growing number of rules are now the norm.

As part of the new norm, the USGBC is reconsidering the "deep-pockets" 10:1 cost difference. It is true that the the "deep-pockets" penalty was too steep a ramp. It likely has been a complaint of owners and A&E firms for many years.

In trying to fix the "deep-pockets" problem, the USGBC decided to go with a more flat fee structure. The 10:1 teeter-totter drops to 1:1.

Well, the drop trying to correct a fee structure that was too steep is itself too steep. The original USGBC board was correct. Small firms and building owners needed to be encouraged to consider LEED as cost-reasonable. The current USGBC board and management are also correct. The large difference in fees paid is too large.

So there you have it. The correct answer, as I stated before, is a place in-between the the old and the new fee structures. What I call, Provisional Silver, is a reasonable solution; something in-between that protects small firms and owners.

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Eric Johnson Principal Sustainability Project and Cost Manager, Green Future Now Oct 05 2012 LEEDuser Member 2732 Thumbs Up

I think $1,500 is a fair price. Since they lose a few million on LEED registration and certification they need to make it up somewhere.

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Peggy White White + GreenSpec Oct 05 2012 LEEDuser Member 1334 Thumbs Up

Eric: Hey - good idea! Perhaps I should try that with my clients: "I have to charge higher fees - after all, my business is down and I have to make it up somewhere."

I've gone from really irritated to mildly amused at this latest debacle from national. It's a really unfortunate mis-step at a very bad time. Many firms large and small are still closing offices and laying off staff. My tiny business has been focused more on sustainability rather than solely on LEED and it will continue to be that way - hopefully I'll make it through this economic storm.

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Hernando Miranda Owner, Soltierra LLC Oct 05 2012 Guest 5813 Thumbs Up

No, the correct way to fix the LEED problem, which is the increasing cost of the reviews, is to fix the review process.

The "prove it to me" review method has to go. It is that simple.

Increase fees = Reduced projects = Less Income

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Eric Johnson Principal Sustainability Project and Cost Manager, Green Future Now Oct 05 2012 LEEDuser Member 2732 Thumbs Up

Isn't the unemployment rate under 8.0% now? Maybe next year will be the summer of recovery? $1,200 is about two tanks of gas in Europe.

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Hernando Miranda Owner, Soltierra LLC Oct 05 2012 Guest 5813 Thumbs Up

The membership fee could also be taken as the cost of 200 car fuel tank refills for T. Boone Pickens; Texas billionaire energy investor. He pays less than $1 per "gallon" of gas for one of his personal cars. Less than $8 per tank.

He drives from his home to his office in a Honda Civic GX. The car runs on natural gas and fills up to about 8 gasoline gallon equivalents.

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Eric Johnson Principal Sustainability Project and Cost Manager, Green Future Now Oct 05 2012 LEEDuser Member 2732 Thumbs Up

Natural gas is three and half times more per unit in Europe plus the taxes.

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Hernando Miranda Owner Soltierra LLC
Sep 17 2012
Guest
5813 Thumbs Up

The way it used to be...

More than ten years ago, when I was involved with the development of LEED, I can tell everyone what I was told by a USGBC Board of Director's member. More, or less, the following:

"The USGBC membership fees are intentionally low. We want to encourage small business development, and also thank both large and small firms for bringing in LEED projects to the USGBC. The intent is to help grow LEED and increase the greening of buildings."

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Karen Joslin principal Joslin Consulting
Sep 17 2012
LEEDuser Member
1536 Thumbs Up

Are you kidding me?

Opened the email with the "news" and instead of adding the very much needed individual memership structure for all those folks out there whose organization will not join USGBC or connect them to their corporate ID or even those between jobs - low and behold the memership structure has just taken away my value to my dozens of clients as an independent LEED Manager. I have a couple employees - use experienced contract professionals as needed and now will no longer be valued by the USGBC/GBCI in the certificaiton process any more than a non-member. COngratulations to all the architecture firms who must have lobbied for this to put us consultants right out of business. Guess you just couldn't handle the competition eh?
Going to take a break, gather my wits, and proceed with my next client Design Review response with or without support from USGBC!

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Hernando Miranda Owner, Soltierra LLC Sep 17 2012 Guest 5813 Thumbs Up

This is a 5x membership fee increase. My firm is just me but I do hire outside consultants. I paid the annual membership dues one month ago. I now have to pass on another $1,200 to the USGBC to keep my contractual obligations for my few projects.
To larger firms the added cost is nothing to worry about. They can spread the increase out over a larger number of projects.

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Bill Swanson PE, LEED AP, Integrated Architecture Sep 17 2012 LEEDuser Expert 13732 Thumbs Up

This is most likely an attempt to make up for the dropping membership numbers. When the economy took a nose dive so did their membership. They stopped posting numbers a couple years ago but it's probably still going down. So this is their solution to fill the revenue hole.

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Hernando Miranda Owner, Soltierra LLC Sep 17 2012 Guest 5813 Thumbs Up

Falling revenue is an issue. Not just for the USGBC but for consultants. This year I am expecting a 30% drop in gross income. Next year I hope it doesn't drop to 50% of 2011. That's the point at which expenses exceed income.

The way a business manages reduced income is by cutting expenses. You can also, as I have, reduce the costs of LEED consulting proposal to improve the chances of getting more work.

The USGBC needs to cut costs. I don't believe the USGBC realizes how much the LEED market has shrunk in the least few years. I see it continuing to shrink.

It is going to get very ugly in the LEED consulting business in the next few years. A lot of small firms will go out of business. It is already happening.

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Eric Johnson Principal Sustainability Project and Cost Manager, Green Future Now Oct 03 2012 LEEDuser Member 2732 Thumbs Up

18,000 Members - 4/29/2010
13,000 Members - 10/3/2012

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Peggy White White + GreenSpec Oct 03 2012 LEEDuser Member 1334 Thumbs Up

Meanwhile, I'm guessing that the staff has grown in these past two years - does anyone know by how much?

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Hernando Miranda Owner, Soltierra LLC Oct 04 2012 Guest 5813 Thumbs Up

Someone who knows the USGBC people well told me the staff turnover rate is very high.

That someone also told me the following: Staff gets hired. Learns the special ins and outs of LEED, things that outsiders don't get to learn. Staff gets hired away with a very good offer to leave the USGBC and go to work getting LEED projects through the system for private clients.

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Jill Dalglish, PE Senior Engineer, Dalglish Daylighting Oct 10 2012 LEEDuser Expert 4171 Thumbs Up

Back to one of Karen's original points, does anyone know why you have to be employed at a USGBC Membership firm before you can be a member? There are a lot of organizations that allow individual membership. It seems counter to the organization's objective of market transformation if only those who are already in the market are allowed to join.

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Hernando Miranda Owner Soltierra LLC
Sep 17 2012
Guest
5813 Thumbs Up

Silver or higher membership required for member discounts

My interpretation is correct. Only Silver and higher memberships get the member discounts for LEED project registration and certification fees.

https://new.usgbc.org/sites/default/files/USGBC%20Membership%20Offerings...

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Karen Joslin principal, Joslin Consulting Sep 17 2012 LEEDuser Member 1536 Thumbs Up

I've been given feedback that the membership department is gathering response to this announcement - so make your voices heard no or never!

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Peggy White White + GreenSpec Sep 21 2012 LEEDuser Member 1334 Thumbs Up

I sent them a note with my thoughts... ;o)

Aside from the registration discount issue, I also noticed the education packages for the Silver, Gold and Platinum levels, and of course none for those lowly "Organizational" folks (what does "Organizational Member" even mean?). Some of the webinars look interesting, but they are too expensive for me as an individual. I suspect many larger firms don't bother with them either - the giant firm I used to work for has their own education program. So, I'm thinking that part of the USGBC MoMoney strategy is to force the purchase of the webinars by including them as a 'benefit'.

I get that the USGBC needs money in these trying times, but so do the rest of us, especially the small firms! Insulting the small firms with this change in fee structure while presenting it as 'more choices' is just wrong. It is hindering our ability to function as viable LEED Consulants. Not very smart for the future of the USGBC to devalue their base.

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Peggy White White + GreenSpec Sep 25 2012 LEEDuser Member 1334 Thumbs Up

Sent a message, got the survey, filled it in (after taking a deep breath to I would respond calmly), and it won't submit or close out. So, I copied it all into a Word doc to save the questions and my answers and sent a note to the survey contact.

So, forewarning for the rest of you if you sent a note and got a survey.

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Sarah Karle Membership Manager, U.S. Green Building Council Sep 27 2012 Guest 75 Thumbs Up

Peggy - I'm sorry that the survey wasn't working for you - I'll reach out directly in order to collect your comments.

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Bill Swanson PE, LEED AP, Integrated Architecture Oct 05 2012 LEEDuser Expert 13732 Thumbs Up

Survey didn't work for me either. I got an error when trying to "Finish".

I first sent an email to the membership address. Then they asked me to complete the survey. The wording in the e-mail seemed to imply my opinion would only be considered based on my survey response. "Please complete so that Member Services will be able to view and review your comments regarding the New Membership structure."

Why can't Member Service view and review my comments from the email? Why do I have to say if I'm renewing or not in the first question to participate in the survey?

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Hernando Miranda Owner, Soltierra LLC Oct 05 2012 Guest 5813 Thumbs Up

I was one of the first LEED AP; about the 5th to pass the test back in the LEED stone age days.

The original AP test included an large number of questions related to what the best way to contact the USGBC was. It went something like this;

A. Call
B. Fax
C. Email
D. Use the Online Form

The correct answer was always D.

I expect the reason for using online forms is that it automatically creates a database, secures the information provided, does not require manual data entry, and provides a sort of legal protection for the USGBC.

Broken online forms should be enough for the USGBC/GBCI to use a manual data entry process instead. Unfortunately, it is unlikely that will happen. The end result is that the survey data gets lost because the online tool doesn't work properly. Not good.

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Eric Johnson Principal Sustainability Project and Cost Manager, Green Future Now Oct 05 2012 LEEDuser Member 2732 Thumbs Up

"Number 5 is alive."

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Kathryn West LEED AP BD+C, O+M, Guiding Principles Compliance Professional, Energy Ace Mar 14 2013 LEEDuser Member 1423 Thumbs Up

The certification policy manual linked through LEED Online isn't updated to reflect this change.... It just says "members" get to register for the discount at $900... which is now untrue.

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Eric Shamp Principal, Ecotype Consulting Mar 20 2013 LEEDuser Expert 750 Thumbs Up

I realize this thread is stale, but I'd like to know how other small firms are dealing with this... we need to renew by the end of this month, and my small firm is in the same boat with other commenters above (Hernando, Karen, Peggy, etEvapotranspiration (ET) is the loss of water by evaporation from the soil and by transpiration from plants. It is expressed in millimeters per unit of time. al). Has anyone considered not renewing their USGBC memberships, rather than maintaining an Organizational membership? We're struggling to afford the $1500 fee for Silver membership. The certification fee discounts were by far the biggest membership benefit, so without that the Organizational level just doesn't do much for us. With the number of projects we typically register in a year, I'm not sure the Silver level is worth it right now.

Has anyone had any luck working out a solution with membership support, as Sarah Karle suggested in her 9/20/12 post above?

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Peggy White White + GreenSpec Mar 20 2013 LEEDuser Member 1334 Thumbs Up

Hello - I was wondering what folks are doing with their membership renewals as well. Nope, no chance of 'working out a solution' with HQ. It is what it is. I just renewed at the 'organizational' level so I can vote no on LEED v4 ;o).

I expect membership is still dropping, but I also doubt that they will realize how much good will they've blown with this membership structure change and the deafening silence that followed after people complained. Sad.

Since money seems to be the driver these days, opening up individual memberships would probably generate additional income as well as re-generate some good will.

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Hernando Miranda Owner, Soltierra LLC Mar 20 2013 Guest 5813 Thumbs Up

Not renewing as a Silver member. Business-wise the higher fee is not justified. I will eat the difference in cost such that the client pays the Silver member fee discount. That is the lowest cost approach for my small business.

Unfortunately, the membership fee enhancement put small businesses at a advertising and profit disadvantage compared to large companies. They can claim they have a greener membership. They also get to pay less for the membership than they used to.

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Michelle Rosenberger Partner, ArchEcology, LLC Aug 05 2013 LEEDuser Member 3802 Thumbs Up

I represent another small LEED consulting firm that like most of you before in the thread, cannot understand how this new structure does anything but benefit large corporations and generate more revenue for the USGBC for less apparent service.

We too were early adopters of green building programs and have done more than our share of marketing on LEED's behalf. We too basically pass through the certification fees and will get no benefit from paying a higher membership to secure them. We too have struggled all along to feel like an acknowledged partner and valued member of the USGBC, despite the consensus driven membership organization rhetoric.

When the new fees were announced, we were confused about why the USGBC would use a sponsorship model for membership. With sponsorship, more dollars buys you more access and PR. Then when we got to the part about "timely" customer service or lack thereof, we were incensed to realize that is exactly what is happening. More dollars overtly buys you a quicker response, and I think we could be forgiven in this model for thinking, maybe a better or more beneficial response by virtue of dedicated higher level personnel than a lesser member might receive.

Like you, we can't compete on this level. Though we have been told by the USGBC directly that we produce a "large" volume of LEED projects even as compared to much larger firms and that they want only to support our efforts to do even more, we are only a 4 person firm. Their actions are speaking louder than their words.

We have been getting bombarded with calls and emails from the USGBC about membership and when we will be re-upping. So many that it's getting really annoying. Now reading this thread, I'm wondering if they are calling incessantly to find out when or simply if we're going to renew.

This month we face the same decision, so my question is to those of you who have decided not to renew or not to renew at the Silver level for the sake of the cert fees. How is that working for you? Are you finding yourselves at a real disadvantage or is it simply business as usual? Are your larger competitors who say they do LEED but don't live and breathe it like us cutting into your market share?

From those of you who have started down this road, what would you advise the rest of us?

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Hernando Miranda Owner, Soltierra LLC Aug 05 2013 Guest 5813 Thumbs Up

I have two weeks to renew and received a call from the USGBC asking me to auto-renew my 10-year old small business membership. Because LEED business is down significantly in the past year, Silver membership is not affordable. It does not appear to me that the LEED business will ever pickup.

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Gordon Ingerson Aug 06 2013 Guest 33 Thumbs Up

We have also been getting a lot of messages from the USGBC about membership renewal. I suspect that many smaller firms will not be able to pay the increased fees for the reasons stated above. The USGBC membership will now probably change to consist of a smaller number of large firms. The USGBC will then need to increase the fees again to make up for the smaller membership, which will accelerate the trend further. This will affect the breadth of the LEED constituency and ability of the USGBC to claim that it is representative of the Green Building movement. A sad state of affairs.

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