NEWS AND COMMENT MAY 2008 5/19/08 MTA Selects Related Companies, Which Will Seek LEED Gold, USGBC, NYC Chapter. The MTA announced today that it has selected Related and Goldman Sachs to develop Hudson Yards into a $1 billion mixed-use neighborhood that will revolve around a central nine-acre grand plaza. Related will seek LEED Gold for the project (pursuant to the MTA’s RFP), though no specific details are available regarding whether that rating will be for individual towers or a broader LEED-ND (neighborhood development, a new certification area) application for the entire project. Comment: Does MTA get to claim LEED Gold from the time the RFP is issued? NYC has a law requiring LEED certification or Silver - can it claim LEED Silver for unborn projects? 12/07 LEED Certified Projects in NYC, US Green Building Council, NYC Chapter website. As of December 2007, there were 16 LEED certified projects and 311 LEED-registered projects in New York City. Clicking on a project's LEED rating will open that project's LEED checklist. View national USGBC case studies for any NYC LEED certified project. For a current map of green building sites in New York City, click here: http://www.greenbuildingsnyc.com/map/. Comment: LEED registration appears to entitle some buildings to a place on the map, since there are many more than 16 pins showing.
12/27/07 (HuffPost) LEEDing the Way to Green Buildings. The LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) program is very successful in getting publicity and has spawned billboards in midtown New York City advertising developers' pursuit of different levels of LEED certification. A significant number of real-estate advertisements mention LEED certification achieved or in process. LEED is a project of the U.S. Green Building Council based in Washington D.C. I was asked by the Sallan Foundation to look at LEED through the prism of my work on standard-setting, accreditation and certification dating back 40 years. As the advertising suggests, hundreds of developers are pursuing LEED-certified buildings or renovations in the NYC area, with 155 projects listed on the area Green Buildings Council registry as being in the process and more than 200 additional buildings in NY State (no regional breakdown available) pursuing their certification confidentially. However, I was surprised to find that the number of buildings actually certified to LEED standards is just 14, according to information through September 2007 I obtained from the NYC area chapter of the Green Building Council. [The figure on the NYC Chapter website rose to 16 by the end of December.]
THE STATUS OF LEED IN NYC – POSITIVE LESSONS, December 27, 2007
The LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) program is very successful, judging by the number of signs in New York City with large headlines indicating pursuit of this or that LEED certification, and the number of real estate advertisements that mention LEED certification achieved or in process. LEED is a project of the Green Building Council, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC. The idea of using one’s buying power to shop for a better world is at least 20 years old (the first edition of Shopping for a Better World appeared in 1988). LEED provides an opportunity for tenants and building buyers to spend their money in ways that makes the world safer for everyone.
Actual NYC LEED Certifications, 2004-2007
Based on the advertising, one would think there must be hundreds of LEED-certified buildings. And indeed, for the NYC area, 155 projects are listed on the Green Buildings Council registry as being in the process of seeking certification. In addition, more than 200 more buildings in NY State (no regional breakdown is available) are on a confidential track and are pursuing their certification in a less visible way. However, the number of buildings that are actually certified to LEED standards is just 14, according to the latest information, through September 2007, from the NYC area chapter of the Green Building Council. The first NYC area certification was in April 2004 at the Gold level, the only certification that year. In 2005, one more was added at the plain-vanilla certification level. In 2006, eight more were added, including the first Platinum certification. In 2007, four more were added through September. The fact that only one building is certified to the Platinum level - the architectural firm of Cook + Fox on a floor in a building (therefore exempt from some of the requirements that might be imposed on a new building) - suggests that this level is hard to achieve. Platinum Cook + Fox Office, New York 12/13/2006 Gold The Solaire/20 River Terrace, New York 4/13/2004 Seven World Trade Center, New York 3/7/2006 The Helena, New York 6/9/2006 Tribeca Green, Battery Park City, New York 6/21/2006 Hearst Headquarters, New York 8/17/2006 Dagher Engineering Future Faci, New York 1/19/2007 New York Power Authority, White Plains 12/20/2006 Silver NYC, Office of Emergency Mgmt., Brooklyn 3/1/2007 Bronx Library Center, New York 7/21/2006 Gensler New York Office, New York 7/30/2007 Certified NYMEX, New York 12/1/2006 Corona Maintenance Shop & Car, Queens 8/6/2007 Heimbold Visual Arts Center, Bronxville 5/4/2005
Eight Positive Lessons from LEED
A general problem with certification is that the standards of environmental and social activist NGOs tend to be very high. Activists go after the industry leaders (sensible enough for publicity purposes) while industry practice tends to lag behind. The LEED program offers valuable positive lessons on how to motivate both leaders and laggards. (In a subsequent article I will discuss some dangers with the LEED approach.) 1.The Yardstick (i.e., the LEED Point System) Is Easy to Understand. Each good deed, like an Eagle Scout badge, gets you a point. Reduce water usage in the landscaping by 50 percent and get one point. Reduce overall water use 20 percent, one point. Divert 50 percent of construction waste, one point. There are 69 possible points in six areas. The bar is pretty low at 26 points for plain-vanilla certification of a new building. The point requirement goes up for silver, gold and platinum (minimum of 52 points). Only six points are required of all building projects: fundamental building systems commissioning, minimum energy performance, CFC reduction in HVAC&R equipment, a room for storage and collection of recyclables, minimum indoor air quality performance and environmental tobacco smoke control. 2. The First-LEED Level Bar is Easy to Achieve. To persuade the average business that a certification is worth getting, it must appear attainable. That means a low entry bar. Apart from the six required points, what it takes to get a plain LEED certificate is 20 more points. Beyond that, builders can aspire to silver, gold and platinum certification. 3. The LEED System Is Flexible. The 20 points beyond the first six to qualify for first-level LEED certification may be chosen from six different areas. Sustainable Sites(14 points possible), Water Efficiency (5 points), Energy and Atmosphere (17 points), Materials and Resources (13 points), Indoor Environmental Quality (15 points), Innovation and Design Process (5 points). The last was added because of complaints that the point-mongering approach gave insufficient recognition to overall environmentally friendly design concepts. 4. LEED Offers Challenges for Industry Leaders. If green purchasing is a luxury good, then the Green Building Council has done a good job of promoting its top brand, the Platinum certification. In New York City, having been attacked for environmental failings in his previous office, Al Gore was eager to take space in a Durst building at Bryant Park that rated platinum by LEED. Battery Park City now has a building, “The Visionaire”, that was designed to qualify for the platinum LEED rating. The Goldman Sachs building in Jersey City uses wood that is 100 percent compliant with LEED requirements. Ground has been broken for the first green school.Stop & Shop and Giant Supermarkets are building LEED-rate green supermarkets. 5. LEED Builds a Green Industry. The point system encourages builders to do certain things and buy certain products that help the green-building industry to grow. For example, a building gets a point for having an architect who is a LEED Accredited Professional, which encourages architects to get LEED training. Market researchers SBI (Specialists in Business Information) predict that the market for green building materials will grow from about $2.2 billion in 2006 to $4.7 billion in 2011, a growth rate of about 17 percent per year. 6. LEED Is Scalable and Expandable. The LEED approach started with office buildings and spread to other types of buildings - applying the green focus to the built environment, such as offices, schools, hospitals, homes and communities. The ratings are in place for New Construction, Existing Buildings, Commercial Interiors (applicable to tenant improvements), Core & Shell, Schools, Retail, Healthcare, Homes and are used by architects, real estate professionals, facility managers, engineers, interior designers, landscape architects, construction managers, lenders, state and local governments across the country for public-owned and public-funded buildings and federal agencies like the Departments of Defense, Agriculture, Energy, and State.
7. LEED Doesn’t Reinvent the Wheel. The easiest way to get points in the LEED program is to buy products that generate points, in particular certainbuilding materials. The Green Building Council doesn’t try to set a multitude of standards for building materials but instead endorses standards of others and refers builders to products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC, described as “the most comprehensive” rating), Green Seal, Scientific Certification Systems (Green Cross), Green Guard,Carpet & Rug Institute, Building Green Inc., Energy Star Roof program and others. The FSC rating is the standard that most clearly complies with the principle of separation between accreditation and certification. The FSC sets the standards for the wood that is certified and then accredits other nonprofit organizations (like Rainforest Alliance) or businesses to certify that the wood meets the standards. This is best practice according to the International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labeling Alliance (ISEAL). 8. Standard-Setting Is Broad-Based and Transparent. The standards for the rating systems are developed through a multi-stakeholder process led by volunteer LEED committees. Members are practitioners and experts from many parts of the building industry. Stakeholders can comment and review and members vote onnew rating systems. The system has an open appeals process. Ratings are now being developed in Neighborhood Development and comments have been flying fast. NEXT TIME: Some questions about the LEED System.