LEED is not a process, but it exposes bad process.

The City of Ottawa has recently been considering dropping it’s requirement that all new buildings of a certain size be LEED certified.

The key reason for this decision given by Ottawa councilman David Churnushenko is that, based on his experience, LEED is costing $50,000 per building in documentation time. Even accounting for hyperbole, that is far too much.

However, it is also an indicator that the citizens of Ottawa are not getting the greenest buildings they could.

Sustainable and regenerative design and development come from relationships, creativity, and Integrative Process; not bureaucracy. LEED certification, it turns out, is an excellent way of measuring how effectively you are using your design and build teams. It is fairly safe to say that if they are treating LEED as just paperwork, just pushing paper and email is how your expensive staff and consultants are spending much of the rest of their time together too. If you are an owner (or city councilman) and your staff is moaning about how LEED documentation is costing you tens of thousands of dollars, you are wasting your money, whether you are seeking LEED certification or not.

This might be a perverse argument in favor of LEED, but it is a proven one.

iLiv has customers who are 30-50% more efficient (and if they are consultants, profitable) per LEED project. They are also delivering higher rated and higher performing buildings to their owners at no additional cost. They don’t see LEED as a burden, but as an invitation to discover and deliver a better and more valuable building.

Back in Ottawa, councilman Churnushenko is making one big false assumption: that by reducing LEED paperwork, his teams will become better green designers and builders. Nope. It takes new skills, like listening, being comfortable working outside of your area of expertise, teasing out and using ideas from anyone no matter what their status or specialty, sharing a vision, asking the hardest questions, trusting.

When all of those are in place, you get the best possible realization that the people, place, owner’s requirements, and environment can produce. And if you have proper processes and utilities in place, and integrate LEED from the beginning, your documentation burden should be trivial.

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