The Nuts, Bolts, and Dollars to Getting LEED Certified

LEED certified building is big news in the green industry, but not everyone understands the logistical process in getting a project LEED certified. LEEDuser and have created a report entitled, “the Cost of LEED”, to analyze cost details for project certification.

Earning a LEED certification for a project involves several different types of cost, each to be analyzed separately to get an accurate estimate. There are five major types of cost, which are: member fees, the cost of documentation, additional research and design, commissioning and modelling for compliance, and construction costs.

The most general fees are member fees paid to the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI).  This is done  to register and certify a project and legitimate the costs associated with compiling and submitting LEED documentation.

The third category consists of the engineering fees associated with research and design. Turning a non-LEED project into one that meets LEED standards can be costly. Since these efforts are meant to create a better building system, a team must develop scenarios and simulations to determine building performance, prepare cost estimates, and create feasibility studies.

The fourth category is concerned with engineering costs associated with commission and modelling projects for compliance. Commissioning is already part of major projects, but energy modelling can have a real impact in costs. Energy modelling is done in the early design process for every type of building, but for LEED documentation it is instead accomplished much later in the design process and with a different set of guidelines. If there is no existing code or guideline made for the LEED structure, then a measurement and verification plan and devices must be created to track performance.

The last category is the cost of construction, this being the biggest cost. Due to the materials used and the amount of engineering required, a LEED project may be more expensive to build than a non-LEED building, which is why design teams should look into alternative cost-savings mechanisms.

More specific information can be found in “the Cost of LEED”. This report narrows down steps to getting certification credits, as well as offers cost estimating advice on the materials and methods required to getting a project LEED certified.


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