LEED US Project Certifications Fall 9% in 2017 First Half

LEED US Project Certifications Fall 9% in 2017 First Half

 LEED project use in the US continues to decline, across all rating systems, based on our analysis of the LEED Project Directory database, for projects certified by June 30, 2017.  Overall new project registrations fell 75% in the first half of 2017, compared with 2016.

Project certifications, i.e., awards to projects already completed, which reflect registrations typically made in prior years, fell 9%, to a total of 1,359, across all major rating systems for new construction, tenant improvements and existing buildings. What’s worse, LEED for Existing Buildings (EBOM/O+M), already lagging in user acceptance, saw certifications fall 25% in the first half of 2017. Clearly, a “carbon neutral” building evaluation program has to have a major uptake by existing buildings.

LEED Project Certifications are the lagging indicators, as they reflect decisions taken one to five years in the past, with regard to the intent to pursue LEED certification when a project is complete. For example, LEED Core & Shell (CS) projects tend to be major office buildings, so a 20% drop in certifications in 2017 reflects decisions taken 3-5 years ago.

While there was certainly no rush to certify projects in 2016 (as there was for project registrations), so that they could be evaluated under the now unavailable LEED 2009, the decline in overall certifications reflects the generally slowing market uptake for LEED that I have documented over the past 18 months, both in my book, Reinventing Green Building and in various blog posts analyzing the LEED Project Directory.

So it’s more than fair to look at the certification results for US projects from the first half of 2016 and compare them with 2017. Remember that we have had booming construction economies for the past five years, so the new construction numbers for speculative projects are especially telling.

Here are the US certification numbers for the first half of 2017, compared with the first half of 2016:

LEED US Certifications, 2017 (six months) vs. 2016 (six months)

Rating System                                               2016 Cert.       2017 Cert.       % Decrease

LEED BD+C (new construction)                      756               746                   -  1%

LEED Core & Shell (new const.)                       143               114                   -20%

LEED ID+C (interiors)                                       341               307                   -10%

LEED EBOM/O+M (existing bldgs.)                 257               192                   -25%

Total                                                                 1497             1359                   -  9%

What do these numbers tell us? The four major LEED rating systems in the United States only are the choice of Less than 1400 new construction projects and existing building evaluations in the US in the first half of 2017, out of 5.6 million total buildings and tens of thousands of tenant improvements constructed annually.

The point I have made repeatedly to USGBC and GBCI over the past three years: When your products are being so widely ignored by the marketplace, isn’t it time to start rethinking your product offerings? And what reconsidering your entire “go to market” approach?

For more information and perspectives about how this sorry state of affairs came about, take a look at my 2016 book, Reinventing Green Building: Why Rating Systems Aren't Working and What We Can Do About It (New Society Publishers).