Peter Powell

Sometimes you can back into a story that proves most interesting. I had been following the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) and the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) for a number of years, mainly by press events, seminars in which the media are invited, and announcements submitted by e-mail.

But the recent backing started in the summer while attending an environmental event some 100 miles from Chicago. It seems that the Chicago Chapter of USGBC was exhibiting. Why so far afield, I wondered. Well, the Chicago Chapter was expanding its efforts to get more of the state thinking green and, in fact, was planning an event a few weeks later way west of Chicago to formally explain what USGBC does and the increasing significance of LEED certification for buildings.

It just so happened that I lived close to where that meeting was to take place so I registered to attend and did indeed get caught up on some of the latest information, including the fact that LEED is now LEED v.3 to reflect some of the newest changes in certification requirements. That meeting also showed some LEED-certified projects that had been completed as well as how much more could be done in the area.

As I was reading materials I picked up at the meeting, I noticed that there was a LEED AP recognition. It stood for Accredited Professional and related to a person’s knowledge of the most current version of LEED.

I then set that info aside and turned to another project. The first paper I picked up from that pile had comments from a contractor concerning the franchise sector. But I noticed that he had a LEED AP designation after his name. So the next thing you know, I was asking him about the contractor aspect to the LEED equation.

So the franchise project was set aside for a bit so that I could try to come up with a story that meshed together what LEED v.3 was all about, how one USGBC chapter was expanding its territory, and the HVAC contractors’ part in LEED and USGBC. I’m not sure all of it meshed together all that well. In fact, it may be a bit of a mish-mash, but it does update a lot of information.


The point I got from all this is that HVAC contractors who want to grow their business need to look at the fact that more and more buildings - new, old, residential, commercial, industrial, institutional, large and small - have owners and engineers who are going to be looking at some level of LEED certification whether for a new construction or a retrofit. And they are more than likely going to expect the HVAC contractor to be LEED-savvy.

Technically, in some cases such savvy may not be absolutely necessary. Some existing structures have been re-evaluated by engineers and found to have almost enough points for some level of LEED certification and with a bit more tweaking could achieve that.

But these days it is more common to start with the intention of gaining LEED certification and looking at every possible area to achieve that.

People I talk to tell me that it could very well be that LEED will start influencing building codes. So buildings in the future could well have demanding LEED standards even if the goal is not LEED certification. There is a higher level of expertise and expectations when it comes to such certification, including the HVAC component. And there are those who contend that HVAC contractors who have LEED AP could have the edge in landing such jobs.

At this point I’m supposed to encourage you to check this out in more detail. And I am doing so. But rather than dump a lot of web letters and numbers at you, I’m just going to suggest you Google USGBC, LEED, and especially LEED AP and see what the future could and should hold for you.

Publication date:11/09/2009