This supplement to the Guide to LEED Certification will explain the basic process of LEED volume certification.
Certification through LEED volume certification involves three main steps:
If you need assistance at any time, please contact us.
Note: Check out our Guide to LEED Certification: Commercial, which works in conjunction with this guide to give you a full picture of LEED volume certification. The content in this guide applies to all LEED 2009 and LEED v4 volume prototypes and projects, regardless of prototype registration date.
Core and Shell projects require a special setup in LEED Online. Please connect with us before considering volume certification for these projects.
LEED volume certification is available for the following LEED rating systems:
*As of August 2016, LEED Core and Shell may also pursue LEED volume certification.
Before we dive in to the process for participating in LEED volume certification, let’s review the basics behind how volume certification works.
Since LEED volume certification is designed to streamline certification processes and costs across an organization’s building portfolio (while preserving LEED’s rigor), it’s based around a simple concept: the prototype. Participants in LEED volume certification complete precertification of a prototype, which is a conceptual building or framework that can then be applied across a group of projects that have major elements in common, and can therefore pursue a common set of credits (in a single LEED rating system).
After completing precertification, you can submit volume projects (the group of buildings or spaces that will ultimately earn LEED certification under a given prototype) using customized LEED documentation approved in the prototype. Some of these projects will receive a full review through the LEED volume certification audit process as a way to ensure the ongoing quality of the submissions.
Your first step to getting started with LEED volume certification is to apply for admittance. All volume certification participants are organizations that own, manage or lease real estate – however, please note that consultants, architects and contractors are not eligible. Contact USGBC to learn more and request an application.
Our team will work with you to complete the application, which calls for information about your organization, experience with LEED, and the potential set of projects you'll eventually submit for volume certification. This will allow us to determine if your organization is a good fit for this type of certification, and assess your readiness.
After you submit your volume application and it is accepted, you’ll receive a dedicated USGBC account manager and a portfolio in LEED Online, the web-based resource for managing the LEED documentation process, as well as access to a variety of tools and resources, including dedicated technical support. The portfolio is a group tool that allows you to track and organize prototypes and volume projects, in one place. Within LEED Online, all members of a portfolio's team will have access to prototypes and projects.
Next up? We ask that you complete an orientation program that requires you to review helpful guidance documents and participate in orientation. Your account manager will help you schedule your team's participation in one of the upcoming one-day volume certification workshops. While we only require a single representative from your organization to attend the in-person event, your program fee covers up to three attendees. We look forward to meeting you!
Individuals on your project team will be called on to fill certain roles throughout the LEED certification process. You may have one person fill multiple roles. Here’s a rundown of who’s who so you can select your team wisely:
With orientation under your belt, you’re ready to move forward with precertifying your prototype. Prototype precertification is the process in which prototype standards are developed and reviewed prior to the implementation of volume projects. This phase of LEED volume certification includes registering and submitting the prototype in LEED Online, at which point the Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI: the organization responsible for administering LEED certification) will conduct a comprehensive review to ensure that it meets LEED volume certification requirements.
Ready to begin? To register for this phase, you’ll need to submit the prototype fee and enter basic prototype information into LEED Online. After completing registration, you may begin to assign team members in LEED Online.
Volume prototypes and projects are held to all LEED requirements that are in place when the prototype is registered (rather than those that are in place when the you pay the volume certification admission fee). In order to assist you in the prototype development process and give you an idea of what review teams look for, GBCI requests that you submit one to two prototype credits for informal feedback (not including complex credits) prior to submitting for full review. You’ll send these credits directly to your account manager, who will then coordinate with your dedicated review team. GBCI targets returning informal feedback within 20 business days of receiving the credit documentation.
Once you have incorporated the informal feedback and finalized your prototype documentation, you can submit your full prototype in LEED Online. The review process follows the “standard review” process outlined in the Guide to LEED Certification and also includes the option for appeals, inquiries, and other aspects outlined in the Guide to LEED Certification (please note that expedited reviews are unfortunately not available for Volume prototypes). GBCI targets the delivery of the preliminary prototype review within 30 business days and the final prototype review within 20 business days.
To be eligible for precertification, your prototype must include all LEED prerequisites and enough credits to achieve certification at the LEED CertifiedTM level or higher. We’ll refer to the prerequisites and credits included in a particular prototype as prototype creditsthroughout this document. Prototype credits must be earned using the same techniques, methods and management strategies across all volume projects.
In order to complete your application, you’ll need to provide documentation that addresses both the prototype credit strategies that you will pursue as well as the education, quality control and audit documentation that you will have in place to support these strategies. The format for these submittals is flexible to allow you to leverage your own organizational processes, tools and technology platforms as you facilitate LEED volume certification. For additional details regarding submittals, see the LEED Volume Program: Submittal Guidance, which your account manager will provide you.
Your precertification application consists of general and credit-level documentation.
The general submittals include a high-level overview of your organization as well as a quality control plan and education plan, which must show that you have the processes, tools, and education program necessary to deliver projects that consistently meet the LEED credit requirements.
The credit level submittals must include the following four components:
Prototypes must ensure that related projects satisfy the requirements of all MPRs, prerequisites, and enough LEED credits to achieve certification along with all needed documentation.
Prototypes are designed to be applied across a large number of buildings that, although very similar, may have specific nuances. For this reason, we offer you the flexibility to prototype as many credits that you believe are suitable for the group of volume projects under the prototype. We encourage you to consider the protoype credits as a catalog of offerings to utilize for your volume projects. Once you achieve precertification for your prototype, you can draw from this “catalog” and apply credits in various combinations to achieve LEED certification success in your volume project.
There are no requirements for how frequently a given prototype credit must be used on volume projects. Rather, we encourage you to consider the frequency that you anticipate applying each credit when deciding whether or not to include a credit in the prototype precertification. For credits that you anticipate using less frequently, you may opt to leave them out of your prototype precertification and instead, supplement the prototype by using them as individual credits in unique circumstances. Individual credits incur an additional fee – you can learn more about them in the “Certify” section below.
For each prototype credit, you’ll (typically) submit only one credit approach: a complete package of credit documentation to support one of the cases, options, or paths outlined in the LEED credit requirements. Up to five additional credit approaches per prototype are included in the standard review of the prototype, but volume certification includes the flexibility to submit as many as you need during the initial review, for an additional review fee.
You may experience unanticipated changes in the volume projects that you are certifying under a particular prototype – changes that affect the prototype credits and the path you pursue (changes of materials, construction methods, policy updates, etc.). If this occurs, please reach out to your account manager as soon as possible. If the changes affect the quality control process, audit documentation, credit options or paths, or the performance levels of the credits (in design and construction), then they are considered substantive changes that will require you to submit relevant documentation for a further round of precertification review for those credits. Additional credits or changed credits can be submitted for a prototype after the initial prototype is precertified, for a fee.
Unlike the standard certification program, under volume certification, there are two forms of CIRs. A formal inquiry pertaining to a prototype is referred to as a prototype CIR, which is applicable to the particular prototype for which it was submitted and all buildings in the participant’s portfolio where the technical approach is similar for the given prerequisite or credit. However, a volume project CIR is applicable only to the specific volume project for which it was submitted. Both types of CIRs may be submitted for a fee.
Volume prototype registration closes when individual project registration closes. Preliminary submissions for volume prototype precertification are accepted up to 12 months after this registration deadline. You must also achieve volume prototype precertification before any registered volume projects may submit for certification. Volume projects have an additional three years to register after the closure of registration of any LEED rating system - a benefit unique to this type of certification. Volume projects must submit for preliminary review by the sunset date for the version of the LEED rating system under which they are certifying.
Deadlines for volume prototypes and volume projects pursuing LEED 2009:
Once your prototype has achieved precertification (congratulations!), you’re ready to enter the certification phase, at which point your volume projects can be certified using the prototype standards. During the certification phase, you can register and begin construction on your volume projects, and pursue certification for them using the prototyped standards and credits. For LEED EB: O+M prototypes, you may begin the performance period for your volume projects.
The review process for this phase is slightly different than the review process outlined in the Guide to LEED Certification, since it relies on audits for quality control. Volume project reviews occur in two parts: the preliminary review, and a final review, in which the full audit documentation is reviewed for the first three projects and those thereafter randomly selected for audit. The audit process ensures that your volume projects are in compliance with LEED standards and verify that your quality control and education processes are working effectively.
When a volume project is in the audit review process, subsequent volume projects will remain in a queue, and the review timeline for the subsequent volume projects of the same prototype will commence when the audit reviews for all preceding volume projects are finalized, including any appeals, additional credit reviews, remediation plans, and/or re-precertification.
Audits are a key element of quality control throughout the volume process, helping to ensure that volume projects achieve the same rigorous standards as one-off projects that go through the traditional LEED certification process.
We want your volume projects to succeed and we will provide you with the guidance and expertise that will set you up for success. However, in certain instances, if a project has not successfully achieved a prototype credit that is submitted on a volume project scorecard, GBCI may deny these credits. You may pursue the standard appeals process, detailed above in the “Prototype precertification” section, for any denied credits. If GBCI determines through the appeals process that the volume project did indeed fail to achieve the credits in question, GBCI will remove the denied prototype credit from the prototype scorecard, and you are not eligible to apply the prototype credit to a volume project until you have precertified it again. You may precertify a denied prototype credit again using the process to add or revise credits noted in the “Additional or changed credits” paragraph in the “Precertify” section.
The following audit review outcomes will result in a failed volume project, requiring you to submit a remediation plan for a fee:
In the subsequent remediation plan, you should identify the cause of the failure in the process and the steps you’ve taken to correct the failure before submitting any additional volume projects for certification. The remediation plan receives one review, for which GBCI targets delivery within 20 business days. Once your remediation plan has been reviewed and approved, for the next three volume projects that you submit for certification, GBCI will review the full audit documentation for all three projects. There is a fee associated with the remediation plan , which covers the report review as well as the review of the full audit documentation for those three projects.
In the event that the full audit documentation review of one of these three projects results in an additional failed volume project, the entire prototype will be suspended and you’ll need to complete the precertification phase again. Your volume project purchases are not forfeited when a prototype is suspended, however, you will not be allowed to submit a volume project for certification until the re-precertification process is complete, including payment of the prototype fee again. To re-precertify a prototype, you’ll need to provide full precertification submittals, including information on all prototype prerequisites and credits. It is up to you to determine what aspects of the prototype’s precertification submittals must change in order for you to correct the failure. Some components of the prototype’s technical documentation and management processes may not have contributed to the failure, so the information that you submit for re-precertification of these components can be the same documentation as you originally submitted.
Please note that if one of the aforementioned audit documentation review outcomes occurs in the first three projects submitted under a prototype, a remediation plan and fee is not required as long as you’re able to correct the failure in the process for future volume projects.
For a specific volume project, you may wish to submit additional credits not included in the prototype precertification, which we refer to as individual credits. Typically, these individual credits represent a small portion of the overall credits submitted with any volume project, since you’ll include the majority of credits pursued as prototype credits. You should document individual credits using the standard LEED credit forms and supporting documentation, and indicate the individual credits you’ve pursued on the scorecard for preliminary review in LEED Online. If the project is not selected for audit, the project will be returned to you to provide the individual credit documentation with an invoice. You may then submit for final review and GBCI will respond within 20 business days. If the project is also selected for audit, the individual credit review will occur concurrently with the audit review.
Please check out the Guide to LEED Certification for a full rundown of how USGBC utilizes project data. In addition to the project directory and other information we collect for all LEED projects, for volume certification participants, we also collect: