LEED Precertification is drawing skepticism as a potentially misleading approach that savvy real estate owner and operators may take to market their properties as green before they really are.
LEED Precertification is a unique aspect of the LEED Core and Shell program that customers may pursue at their option. In exchange for a flat fee of $3,500 (or $2,500 for USGBC members) developers may send in design plans to be reviewed for pre-certification.
LEED Precertification IS NOT LEED Certification
LEED-CS Precertification is granted to projects after USGBC has reviewed a summary of early design stage submittal documentation. This documentation, which reflects a studied and realistic set of project goals and intentions, forms the basis for an award of Precertification at the project’s expected LEED-CS Certification level.
Precertification allows Core & Shell owners/developers to market to potential tenants and financiers their intention to pursue unique and valuable green features in a proposed building. Precertification generally occurs early in the design process and is based on declared goals and intent to achieve green features, not actual achievement of these features.
Confusion may arise as brokers, marketing/sales and PR people who are working to create interest in these buildings may be overselling features that are not guaranteed, as they do not understand the difference between actual LEED-CS certification and pre-certification. The USGBC may be working to further this type of knowledge through its creation of the LEED Green Associate designation which is seemingly targeted at project support people.
This could lead to confusion about how environmentally responsible a building really is. As of now, there are no studies comparing pre-certification levels with actual certification levels.