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WASHINGTON, DC-A new green building certification entity is launching to manage the LEED Professional Accreditation program, a task that until now had been handled by the US Green Building Council. Called the Green Building Certification Institute, the new organization will, like USGBC has done, certify the LEED bona fides of people in the industry seeking such credentials. GBCI was established with the support of the council.

In January, USGBC will transfer responsibility for the LEED Professional Accreditation program to GBCI, which will manage all aspects of the LEED AP program including exam development, registration and delivery. The institute will also oversee the development of the maintenance program for LEED AP credential holders.

The goal of establishing independence between the green building standards setting processes and the personnel certification administration was a key driver in GBCI’s formation, Peter Templeton, VP of education & research, tells GlobeSt.com. “The development of standards, the industry education initiatives and the certification of personnel all need to be separate efforts,” he says.

In addition, managing the LEED certification of personnel was becoming too time-consuming for USGBC to handle, he adds. Currently there are some 42,000 people in the building trades and real estate industry that have taken the exam to become LEED certificate. “As green building becomes more popular those numbers will only increase,” he says.

The change will have minimal impact on the certification holders, Templeton adds. “All it means is that they will manage their certifications from a new website.” The institute plans to undergo the ANSI accreditation process for personnel certification agencies complying with ISO Standard 17024.

Many in the industry are lauding the establishment of an entity that will do nothing but handle certification for personnel. “Many people across the construction industry are just becoming familiar with sustainable concepts, including contractors, subcontractors, material suppliers and the entire architecture/engineering community,” Larry Eisenberg, executive director, facilities and development for the Los Angeles Community College District, tells GlobeSt.com. Eisenberg is currently overseeing nine colleges for green modernization developments. “This is literally millions of people and will require a large scale educational effort if we are going to transform our economy into the hydrogen-based economy of the future that will eliminate global warming and a create a sustainable pathway forward,” he says.

Another fan is Dan Heinfeld, president of LPA Inc., a Southern California-based sustainable architecture firm. At the firm, some 75% of the professional staff are LEED certified, he tells GlobeSt.com, and there are plans to certify the remaining 25%. Having a separate entity to handle the process will be a big help, he says, especially “if you look at the sheer numbers of people requesting certification. Taking the administration out of the USGBC’s hands will definitely facilitate the process, in my opinion.”

Mark S. Laska, president and CEO of Great Eastern Ecology in New York is also pleased with the continued evolution of green building development. “I think in general it is a positive introduction because the idea is to get the issue of sustainability in as many hands as possible.” He does have some concerns though, namely the quickly growing domination of USGBC over the process. LEED is only one standard, Laska points out, that doesn’t include such concepts as environmentally-friendly landscape or reducing a carbon footprint. “There are some gaps in LEED coverage and we want to make sure the industry doesn’t feel that if it wants to be certified as green that this is the only place to go. That would be like saying that the only bachelor’s degree that counts is one granted by Harvard University.”

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