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Peak LEED?

Peak LEED?

Quality, Consequences and the Construction Industrial Complex (part 162).

How many projects convert from “LEED registered” to “LEED certified”?

I have been doing some research on this for a client and the results have shocked me. The conversion from “LEED registered” to “LEED certified” varies by country but overall it is low. 

For example in Lebanon, a market I know well, as of September 2018 the “state of play” is as follows:

  • Projects Registered with USGBC = 75
  • Total LEED Certified Projects = 8
  • LEED Platinum Projects = 1
  • LEED Gold Projects = 5
  • LEED Silver Projects = 1
  • LEED Certified Projects = 1
  • LEED-CS V2009 = 6
  • LEED-NC 2.2 = 1
  • LEED For Schools V2009 = 1  









This is an 11% conversion from LEED registered to LEED certified. Based on my research, this is not unusual for projects in other Middle East countries. There are at least 10 more projects “cooking in the oven” that I am aware of in Lebanon so the conversion rate in say two years will rise to, at maximum, 24%, which IMHO, is still low. 

Why is the conversion rate only 11%? IMHO and experience there are several reasons:

  1. Residential developers register their projects for LEED as a marketing strategy with no intention of following through.
  2. Hubris, corruption and cronyism which impact items 3 and 4 below.
  3. Value engineering requires LEED be abandoned.
  4. Designers and contractors do not have the necessary expertise and fail to follow through with the required work plus evidentiary articles mandated by the USGBC. 

Bottom line, the USGBC do not care how important your client is nor how “Royal or Presidential adjacent” they are. To their credit, the USGBC does not make exceptions, the project team have to give the USGBC exactly what it wants to certify a project.  

With the advent of LEED V4 I have personally seen a drop in enthusiasm everywhere for LEED certification by clients. I do not expect the conversion from LEED registered to certified to increase. Actually, I fully expect to see a noticeable decline in projects registering for LEED certification going forwards. 

What does this mean for the Green Building movement. Given that there are over 600 “Building” certifications world wide there is a lot of choice for clients. However, I believe the Green Building movement is at an inflection point. There is a schism within the property industry due to: 

  • Too much choice.
  • Too many “experts” required.
  • Too much cost uncertainty. 

True believers are trying to move the market towards “Net Zero” buildings while at the same time many developers have “Green Building” fatigue and are cutting costs i.e. opting to ignore building performance and quality. 

My conclusion from the current fragmented “Green Building” market is that demand for high performance buildings is NOTmarket” driven from end users but it is “faction” driven by uncoordinated government policies, outdated building codes and sometimes, misplaced good intentions. The property industry lacks leadership and clarity supported by legislation. 

It pains me to say this but the government has an assertive role to play given the lack of consensus on how to improve building outcomes. IMHO, the best way forwards is to:

  • Legislate for building performance in existing buildings via tax incentives.
  • Legislate for new construction via energy, waste, recycled content and water consumption performance metrics in building codes, then revisit it every 5 years to ensure progress. 

With these two strategies a market based solution is required and preferred in my opinion, because the market solves to meet the increasingly challenging building code. Of course vested interests and lobby groups would cry foul but I say, screw them. The market will always provide a solution as long as special interest groups are prevented from buying political outcomes. Dreams are free…. : ) 

Has anyone noticed a reduction in interest for LEED certification? 

Twitter: @BLDWhisperer

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#104 – The Overton Window ( ) 

#48 – What Does LEED Platinum Look Like Inside? (  ) 

#49 – What Does LEED Platinum Look Like Outside? (  ) 

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