It's hard to beat the prestige of a LEED plaque on your building.

There is no question of the success the U.S. Green Building Council has had with its LEED green building certification program. It not only helped make environmentally friendly building design popular, but with its standardized criteria, it also has had a lot to do with making green design viable in the first place. But some developers and architects and city governments complain that the LEED certification process takes too long– up to two years in some cases– and some say the certification process is too expensive.

There are alternatives to LEED, though.

Michigan commercial property developer Joseph McGuire is promoting his Society of Environmentally Responsible Facilities (SERF) as an alternative to LEED. According to a column in Crain’s Detroit Business, SERF has already certified 32 Midwestern buildings since the program was launched in October. It streamlines the certification process by making it a self certification, with the SERF organization conducting random audits of certified buildings. Compared to LEED, SERF’s up front criteria are a little less stringent, but the certification requires annual renewal to ensure the building owner is properly maintaining the structure and its green features.

Green Globes is gaining attention, too, as an alternative to LEED. It emphasizes ease of certification through use of an online questionnaire that can be completed without any specialized training. That’s great for small businesses that want to save money (and do the right thing) through energy efficiency, but without a third party inspection, the certification lacks authority.

It’s clear, then that LEED still has the… uh… lead in green certification. It remains the gold standard precisely because it’s a very rigorous certification process. The USGBC also certifies building and design professionals in knowledge of green building technology, best practices.  That’s why there is so much prestige in having a LEED plaque on your building.

Lesile Saul is proud to be a LEED Accredited Professional, as is our Senior Project Manager Monique Jankowski. We’ve worked on several LEED certified projects in the Boston area, including the award winning International Fund for Animal Welfare headquarters in Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts. Contact Leslie Saul & Associates for your next architecture or interior design project.

Photo (cc) Great Valley Center