Appeals Filed in Latest Revision to LEED – What Will USGBC Do?
On July 2, 2013, the U.S. Green Building Council announced that its membership had voted to adopt LEED v4, the next update to the world’s most widely utilized third party validated green building rating system. The overall vote was 86% in favor of adopting LEED v4 far exceeding the minimum passing vote of 66.7%. LEED v4 is scheduled to launch during the Greenbuild conference and expo in November of this year.
The USGBC policy document entitled, Foundations of LEED, as approved by the USGBC Board of Directors on July 17, 2009, provides in relevant part, within Appendix 4: Appeals,
Any party with a direct and material interest, who may be adversely affected by actions or inactions inconsistent with the USGBC procedures with regard to the development, approval, revision, reaffirmation, or withdrawal of a LEED Green Building Rating System, may appeal to the USGBC Executive Committee of the Board.
Appeals must be initiated within 30 days of the appealed from action. And “only appeals of a procedural nature shall be considered.” A likely interpretation of that “procedural nature” requirement in this instance is found in Appendix 2: Balloting, of that same policy document where the procedures utilized for balloting LEED v4 are found.
On August 1, 2013 (presumably within 30 days of the July 2, 2013 USGBC adoption of LEED v4) a group of “appellants” filed an appeal asking the USGBC to “strike the FSC certified wood credit in each place it occurs” in LEED v4. The 9 appellants included the Oregon Forest Industries Council, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers and Weyerhaeuser. A copy is “>here.
Also on August 1, 2013, the Vinyl Institute, a trade association whose members are responsible for the majority of domestic production of PVC (vinyl) filed an appeal challenging the LEED v4 MRc4 Materials Disclosure & Optimization “Building product disclosure and optimization – materials ingredients” credit. A copy is here.
USGBC’s policies require “no later than 30 calendar days after receipt of the written request for appeal,” the Executive Committee must respond acknowledging the appeal, and identifying any actions which will be undertaken to resolve the appeal. If an appellant is not satisfied with the Executive Committee’s attempt to resolve the appeal without a hearing, the appellant may request a hearing, before a neutral appeal panel, within 15 business days of receiving that response. And ultimately, the Executive Committee is to render a decision in writing within 30 days of receiving the appeal panel’s recommendation.
With the 30 days, from the date the 2 known appeals were received having now run, it is reasonable to assume USGBC has identified what act is will undertake to resolve the appeals. USGBC certainly anticipated that LEED v4 would be appealed and no doubt has the mechanism in place to attempt to resolve the appeals before the November launch.
While to date USGBC has been silent about the appeals, not even publicly acknowledging that they exist, few have heard the tree fall in the forest, but there is no metaphysical debate, these appeals exist and the substantive issues are real. It is to be expected that in the coming days, the organization will want to publicly demonstrate its “realistic and readily available appeals mechanism for the impartial handling of substantive and procedural complaints” (the ANSI standard). Look for the USGBC response on this blog ..
photo: Wikimedia Commons.
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