U.S. Green Building Council

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U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) : The U.S. Green Building Council was founded in 1993 by Rick Fedrizzi, David Gottfried and Mike Italiano, three friends with backgrounds in marketing, development and environmental sciences. Today, USGBC is a community comprising 78 local affiliates, more than 18,000 member companies and organizations, and more than 140,000 LEED Professional Credential holders, leading a diverse constituency of builders and environmentalists, corporations and nonprofit organizations, elected officials and concerned citizens, and teachers and students. The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is a 501 c3 non-profit organization.

Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) : The Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) is an independent, third-party organization established in 2008 to administer project certifications and professional credentials and certificates within the framework of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating Systems™. GBCI offers validation that LEED building certifications and LEED professional credentials have met specific criteria.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) : We believe green buildings are the foundation of something bigger: helping people, and the communities and cities they reside in—safely, healthily and sustainably thrive. The heart of our green building community’s efforts must go well beyond construction and efficiency, and the materials that make up our buildings. We must dig deeper and focus on what matters most within those buildings: human beings.

Every single human being on the planet should have safe and healthy places to live, work, learn and play. Leading long and healthy lives is not a privilege—it’s a right for everyone. Shouldn’t the places where we spend 90% of our time support our health and wellbeing? Improved health and productivity benefits are playing a larger role than ever before in driving companies to invest in green building.

LEED Online : LEED Online is the primary resource for managing the LEED documentation process. Through LEED Online, project teams can manage project details, complete documentation requirements for LEED credits and prerequisites, upload supporting files, submit applications for review, receive reviewer feedback, and ultimately earn LEED certification. LEED Online provides a common space where members of a project team can work together to document compliance with the LEED rating system. With the exception of projects registered under LEED for Homes, all projects must be certified using LEED Online.

Greenbuild : The annual Greenbuild International Conference and Expo was launched in 2002 as the world’s largest conference and expo dedicated to green building.

How it all Works

One can look at USGBC as the mothership, directing her individual warriors she created solely for administering and regulating her doctrine for sustainability. Currently there are two entities subordinate to USGBC that are responsible, in part, for carrying a large portion of the burden – GBCI (the Green Building Certification Institute) and LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).

Sustainability in this country, and many other countries throughout the world, is benchmarked by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). LEED defines both the accredited professionals who work in the sustainable field and the degree of sustainability of certified constructed projects. As such, there are two distinct parts to the LEED environment.

One part is the accreditation of professionals who possess knowledge in the field of sustainability. There are three levels, or tiers, of accreditation based on the degree of green knowledge. Tier I is the LEED Green Associate who demonstrates a basic knowledge and skill in practicing green design, construction and development. Tier II is the LEED Accredited Professional with Specialty for those who have an extraordinary depth of knowledge in green building practices and specialization in a specific field. These professionals are designated as LEED AP+, where the + marker indicates the designation for the area of specialization, such as LEED AP BD+C, whereas BD+C indicates Building Design and Construction. The top level, Tier III, is reserved for the LEED AP Fellow, a LEED AP with specialty who has held the LEED AP credential for eight cumulative years and must document a total of at least 10 years of experience in the green building field. Nominees for the LEED Fellow will be nominated by their peers.

The second part of LEED is the certification of sustainable projects, as defined by the various LEED rating systems. Certification is awarded based on the degree of sustainability for the rating system selected by the project team. LEED rating systems cover a broad spectrum of building types, with pilot programs under development for additional rating systems. The LEED New Construction and Major Renovations rating system defines certain types of newly constructed projects, and includes major renovations. LEED for Homes is specific for residential projects, LEED Schools covers schools meeting certain criteria, and so on. For each rating system, there are various levels of certification awarded as determined by the amount of ‘green’ credit points achieved.

The major source controlling these processes is the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI). GBCI performs two basic functions. The first is the development and administration of the accreditation examinations for LEED GA or AP candidates. The second responsibility of GBCI is managing the LEED project certification process.

A Snapshot Summary

USGBC: Develops LEED Green Building Rating Systems; Provides and develops LEED based education and research projects

GBCI: Provides third party LEED professional credentials; Provides third party LEED project certification

LEED: The rating systems, specific to the project type, that establish the parameters for certified sustainable projects

USGBC National Membership: Only organizations, corporations or institutions are eligible for national membership

USGBC Chapter Membership: Only individuals are eligible for chapter membership

Accreditation: People are accredited

Certification: Projects are certified

Products: Products are neither accredited nor certified. USGBC, GBCI and LEED neither promotes nor endorses product

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