USGBC focus shift refuted


The June 17, 2013, Grand Rapids Business Journal article “Has USGBC shifted its focus?” presents one opinion of the changes being implemented by the U.S. Green Building Council for being an Accredited Professional and the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system. 

While it is an opinion, it is not an opinion that is universally shared across the design community.

Many of us who also took the initial test and thought we were accredited forever have opted for the continuing education credit path, which provided two years to acquire 30 hours of continuing education, an option that was available for all original holders of the title LEED Accredited Professional. Most other professional organizations and state licensing require continuing education as a means to elevate the expertise of the practitioner and provide excellence to their clients.

In recognition that not everyone needs to be an implementer of the LEED rating system but may have a desire to be part of a leadership organization in sustainable design, USGBC implemented a two-tier system for examination and a cost that recognized this reality. 

Now one can be a Green Associate for less cost and a less vigorous examination process than those aspiring to be a LEED Accredited Professional capable of designing or constructing sustainable buildings that meet the requirements of the LEED rating system, the most widely accepted green rating system in the world. 

This approach has been implemented to help broaden the diversity of membership and attract other like‐minded individuals beyond architects, designers and builders.

USGBC, as acknowledged in the article, has done more in the past 20 years to bring sustainable design to the mass market and everyday life than anything before it. 

A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, whose mission is to transform the way buildings and communities are designed, built and operated, enabling an environmentally and socially responsible, healthy and prosperous environment that improves the quality of life in one generation, USGBC has accepted the challenge of being a leader in sustainable design, and with leadership comes the desire to continuously change and improve. 

Having been born and raised in West Michigan, I have seen the desire to be a leader demonstrated by countless CEOs and companies throughout the area. I expect every one of them would suggest change and continuous improvement were keys to maintaining their leadership roles.

Sustainable design will always be a pioneering endeavor as new methods, materials and processes are implemented. 

As to the question “where do we go from here?” one only has to look at the newest version of the LEED rating system, Version 4, to see that USGBC still has its eye on the goal of transforming our lives within a generation.

Dennis Bekken is an architect with C2AE in Grand Rapids and vice chair of the U.S. Green Building Council West Michigan Chapter. He can be reached at (616) 454‐9414 or at

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