When LEED was first launched it was nothing short of a miraculous document that began to address the full scope of environmental issues that were impacted by building. It was and still is a wonderful reference that helps to tackle the dizzying list of environmental concerns. LEED was a catalyst for change. It began with a single rating system for buildings and as the system was applied, the idiosyncratic nature of projects and their delivery spawned a whole range of off-shoots, LEED NC, LEED Core and Shell, LEED for Homes, and many more. As it developed, it became more complex and each rating system developed numbered volumes addressing the latest list of concerns. The folks at the USGBC are clearly caught between capturing a broader segment of the market by leaving the standards as they are and establishing higher standards that will reduce the size of their audience. It is undoubtedly a tough position to be in.
For a long time, LEED will be a comprehensive way for architects to begin to understand more about the overlap of environmental issues and building design. It is broad in the scope of environmental issues it addresses. Recently, I have wrestled with the escalating costs of implementing the system for green building practices that began to feel rote. The prescriptive nature of LEED and the desire of the rating system to cover all of the bases yielded a system that is not flexible in addressing the specific variant issues in projects. It's process has become more cumbersome. In the LEED for Homes program, the program we at Thoughtful Balance have used the most, there is a requirement of a third party verifier that is selected from a list of service providers listed by the USGBC and this has led to a whole slew of problems. Providers can be difficult based on their pre-approved status and this has made the process even more cumbersome.