Putting Together a LEED Team

By Lynne Bryan Phipps, LEED AP, NCIDQ, IIDA, IDE

Contributing Editor

One of the tasks that may seem most daunting to the building professional who hasn’t previously worked on a green building is assembling a qualified team of professionals to work on a commercial LEED project.

True, a competent team is crucial for the success of any LEED project. But it doesn’t have to be as difficult as it may seem at first, as long as you keep in mind two vital factors.

1.  All team members must have a genuine interest in working on a green project and must be willing to work within the LEED system.

2.  The lynch pin of the team must be a LEED accredited professional (LEED AP) who understands the LEED process intimately and is able to guide the team through the entire process.

Once a LEED AP has been selected, the first step in the LEED process is to register the project with the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). This not only signals the start of the formal LEED process but helps ensure that the project will receive all possible LEED points it is entitled to.

An effective team for any commercial building project must have the ability to fully cooperate and collaborate freely among all its members. This is especially true for a LEED project.

The LEED process is not linear. It is structured to encourage input from all team members from the beginning. The intent is to further green design through collaboration among design professionals. Without brainstorming among architects, engineers, interior architects, designers, electricians, contractors and other team members, effective sustainable or green design isn’t likely to result.

When putting together your LEED team, look for individuals with skills and characteristics such as:

  • Interest in working on a green building.
  • An interest in learning the LEED process and a willingness to work within the LEED system.
  • Interest in working on a project that is focused on the people who will occupy it.
  • Experience in green building design and/or sustainable building practices.
  • The interest and ability to be a team player.
  • A working understanding of collaboration between the building professions.
  • Good organizational skills.
  • Strong management skills.
  • Ability to manage teams.

Remember it isn’t necessary for everyone on the design team to be a LEED AP. You only need one.

The most important factors for success are the desire of each team member to work on the project and their interest in learning the LEED process.

The LEED process itself is not a hard one. Difficulties arise when working with building professionals who aren’t genuinely interested in green building principles and practices. On the other hand, when working with a team that enjoys collaboration and understands the synergy it can create, the design and construction of a LEED building can be a very positive and fulfilling experience.

What are your experiences with the LEED certification process? What factors are critical for the LEED team’s success?

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