Photos by Eric Laignel via Envision and Metropolis
The new US Green Building Council offices are a joy to behold, lovely (if conservative) design with the greenest choices of materials and furnishings. (We admired them here) Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO & Founding Chair of the USGBC is justifiably proud that it just got certified Platinum, saying "The vision of the space was to exemplify everything a LEED building is: high-performing, resource-efficient, healthy and productive."
But can it be certified LEED Platinum? Who certifies the certifiers?
It is not meant to be a silly question; The strength of LEED is the promise of third party certification. The USGBC says:
LEED is an internationally recognized green building certification system, providing third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built using strategies aimed at improving performance across all the metrics that matter most: energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts.
The actual certification of LEED is now done by the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI):
(GBCI), established in January 2008, provides third-party project certification and professional credentials recognizing excellence in green building performance and practice.
It appears that the GBCI was set up to reduce chances of conflicts and separate those who develop the rating system from those who do the certifying:
Achieving ANSI accreditation is a goal of GBCI's professional credentialing program; the creation of GBCI and the separation of the development of the rating system and the exam brings the credentialing program closer toward meeting standards for programmatic excellence put forth by ANSI/ISO/IEC 17024.
So it would appear that the GBCI evaluates the application by the USGBC. But they are in the same office and their boards have overlap, so it can hardly be called arms length.
It is an interesting question; they are certainly not going to call in Ward Hubbell for a third party evaluation. And the building certainly deserves it. But does this meet the test of "third-party project certification"?