New to the group, so my apologies if this has already been discussed, but I was curious about people's thoughts on the new LEED categories, and where a landscape architect fits into them. I am interested in pursuing LEED accreditation, but after you become a Green Associate, I wasn't sure what track seemed the most appropriate for an LA.
Does anyone who has recently become a LEED-AP have any thoughts on which track they pursued? Are LA's that are becoming LEED-AP going for LEED-AP ND? Or, in what other areas have people specialized? Or, does anyone have thoughts on what specialties they think are the most valuable as a practitioner?
I realize that this will be thought by some to be heresy, but I believe we all need to rethink the whole concept of LEED and its many branches and forms. The USGBC has set itself up as a quasi-governmenatal organization establishing hoops to jump through with a reward of gold and silver stars. The organization requires lengthy and costly certification of individuals in various design disciplines with the reward of letters behind your name. The USGBC as convinced local, state and federal agencies that without their guidance, a building can't be designed and built, a site can't be designed in a sustainable and responsible manner. I'm working on a building for a public client where the LEED Silver is costing over $125,000 just for the documentation and certification process. We as architects, designers, landscape architects and engineers are charged with designing facilities that are effective both in capital and life-cycle costs , sustainable and functional. Do we really need a silver star to do this? I believe that LEED will go by the way of Value Engineering which has outlived its usefulness.
Thanks for the candid thoughts Charles. I definitely support the overarching mission of LEED, namely, to encourage better and more sustainable design and construction practices. But, at its worst, I agree that LEED has become a self-sustaining business similar to educational testing, where thousands and thousands of dollars are required to basically get a resume bullet for knowledge you may or may not of already acquired as a design professional. But, that resume bullet is a pretty important one now, whether we totally agree with the processes of attaining it. And, hopefully the knowledge acquired will also make us better design professionals.
To follow-up, do you think that Landscape Architects benefit from becoming a LEED AP, both in credentials and in the exam prep process? Or, might we be better served elsewhere?
I realize that you posted this some time ago but I just came across it. To address your original question, as a LA I felt that becoming accredited in Neighborhood Development was by far the most appropriate, and the most useful, in terms of our professional scope. While not perfect, it is a way to qualify and quantify "sustainable." It is expensive in terms of both money and time invested but it is important to remember that LEED certified developments (buildings) have a higher and faster resale and, use less natural resources including, water and land–two things in finite supply. Possibly, the USGBC just needs some good old fashion competition to force them to streamline the cost and process. It will come.
Thanks for the response and recommendation Tamera. I am in the process of get my LEED GA this fall, and Neighborhood Development seemed like the most relevant specialization to pursue for full accreditation, but it is nice to hear it from someone firsthand to confirm my suspicions. Thanks!