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4 Steps on the Path to LEED Mastery

By Tommy Linstroth

It’s a new year for the construction industry, and 2020 will an exciting time to pursue Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for your green construction project.

With the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) planning to fully transition to LEED v4.1 in the coming year, designers and builders have a clearer path toward pursuing certification than in the past. Here are four ideas to help make the path to LEED success a little easier:

1. Do Your Homework

LEED v4 is still in effect for the time being, but the clock is ticking down to the final adoption of the revised v4.1. If you haven’t checked v4.1 out yet, we’d highly recommend that you do some digging and familiarize yourself now.

The new version will remain in pilot phase through at least the early part of this year, but there is no time like the present to do your homework. You’ll want to know what to expect when it goes live. Being aware of the updated requirements will be useful as the revised standards make several credits more accessible. Just be aware that the final, approved version of v4.1 may be slightly different than what’s out there today.

2. Decide Whether to Opt-In Earl

Another suggestion is to go ahead and review the requirements contained in LEED v4.1 with your project team and evaluate whether you should go ahead and opt in. Yes, you should.

Many people in the construction industry may not be aware of the changes contained in v4.1 and don’t realize that they are 99 percent more likely to be better off opting in now. It would benefit them greatly, especially if they are currently working on a v4 project, to take a step back to meet with their teams and discuss the advantages of the new standards. Because there are definitely advantages.

When developing v4.1, the USGBC set out to take a more pragmatic approach to the guidelines, providing options and alternatives to make qualifying for credits even more possible while still upholding efficiency goals. Under the new standards, it will be easier to find compliant materials and building products that count toward certification.

3. Find Someone to Lead the Process

Even if v4.1 provides more opportunities to achieve credits, it won’t do you or your team any good if nobody is keeping track of what is going on. To stay on the path to LEED success in 2020, set up clear lines of communication about the certification process.

The first step is to clearly identify who on the team is doing what. Find someone to take ownership of LEED documentation and recordkeeping. When no team member is clearly designated with the responsibility of keeping track of the documentation process, it is easy for everyone to assume that somebody else is doing it. This leads to nobody doing it.

By clearly defining the roles of who’s doing what you can ensure that everything is actually getting done. If nobody does the job, it’s not going to be easy to recreate the paper trail a year down the road — if it’s possible at all.

4. Be Organized

Keeping track of all the documentation needed for LEED certification requires discipline. It requires having a record-keeping system in place that is more than just taking all of your receipts and shoving them in a shoe box in the back of the closet. Have a systematic process for logging, verifying, and reporting of all needed items.

Here’s some advice to save yourself a lot of stress: organize the records in a way that is logical and understandable, so that when it comes time to pull everything together at the end of the project, you’re not having to spend two weeks sifting through 10,000 construction photos. That reduces the risk that you’ll miss something and will makes your life easier because you can quickly and easily find the information that you need, when you need it.

Looking Ahead

2020 looks like it will be a great year for green construction. Resolve to stay up to date on the latest standards and innovations. Look for new opportunities to learn and grow. The future will be even more exciting as both LEED and green construction technology continue to evolve.


Tommy Linstroth is founder and CEO of Green Badger, a cloud-based solution for equipping project teams of all levels of experience with the tools they need to document LEED as efficiently as possible.

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