Pros And Cons Of Green Building Rating Systems
With all of the different green acronyms, designations, and credentials in the industry today, have you ever felt like having a "Sustainalobotomy"? It can be amazingly mind numbing; LEED-AP, LEED-EBOM, BOMA, CFM, etc.; the list seems endless. Often the question arises, how do various of these sustainability rating systems, and more specifically, sustainability credentials, compare to each other? What are the pros and cons of each system, and how do they compare to each other?
For instance, what are the pros and cons of a Sustainable Facilities Professional (SFP) designation from the International Facility Management Association compared with the LEED AP credential from the U.S. Green Building Council?
Often the answer depends on who is asking the question. In general, there are two groups who want to focus on sustainability: one primarily for social and environmental reasons and others who take the approach only when it is justified by cost and return on investment. By understanding the various credentials and rating systems available, you can make an informed choice about which are right for you, your staff, and your buildings.
When considering the best path to accreditation, it's imperative to obtain your certification from an industry-recognized organization or an accredited university certificate/degree program. Quality, impact, time, and finances are all factors to evaluate when determining the best option for your career. These are some of the more well-known sustainability credentials available.
LEED Accredited Professional — Possibly the most well-known green credential, the LEED AP credential is managed by the Green Building Certification Institute, a group established by USGBC in 2008 to manage all credentials and building certifications. The LEED AP credit requires 30 hours of continuing education every two years. All candidates must have documented personal involvement on a project registered for LEED within the last three years and verification through LEED Online or an employee attesting to work performance.
USGBC has regional chapters in major cities and provides membership and education at a reasonable cost. Also required is engagement in (or completion of) an education program that addresses green building principles. Candidates must also agree to the disciplinary and exam appeals policy and to the requirements for credential maintenance, and submit to an application audit. You can achieve a LEED AP designation in three areas: Building Design and Construction, Interior Design and Construction, and Operations and Maintenance.
LEED Green Associate — This is the basic LEED credential for those who are involved or interested in LEED, but who don't work hands-on with LEED projects. You can achieve this separately or in conjunction with one of the other credentials noted here. The GA is intended as a base for professionals who want to demonstrate green building expertise in non-technical fields of practice. It denotes basic knowledge of green design, construction and operations.
Sustainable Facilities Professional — The International Facilities Management Association (IFMA) sought to bring an overall understanding of sustainability through the Sustainable Facilities Professional credential. They chose to show how a professional can implement sustainable practices in any type of building through operating more efficiently in energy, water, materials and resources, workplace management, indoor environmental quality, quality of services, waste, and site impact. Whether it's a warehouse, a Class A or B building, a school, or a health care facility, they can all operate in a sustainable manner.
The education for the credential covers how to make the business case for sustainability, how to align the facility sustainability plan with the organization's strategic goals, and how to make sustainable changes in equipment, technology, and operations and maintenance procedures.