When the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) recently rolled out version 3
of the Leadership and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating system
in July of 2009, the question of whether a building's LEED certification could
be taken away or the building decertified quickly became a hotly debated issue.
The issue came to the forefront in a high profile challenge to the LEED rating
of a mid-west school project and was further fueled by new provisions in LEED
2009 which reserved the USGBC's ability to revoke certification of a project
that fails to meet the program's MPR's or Minimum Program Requirements. One
such MPR included a new requirement regarding mandatory information sharing
about the project's energy and water usage for five years after certification.
What was missing from USGBC was a clarification whether a threat of
decertification was at the initial rating approval/award stage or whether the
threat of decertification extended through the five year reporting stage.
Thankfully USGBC issued LEED 2009 MPR Supplement
Guidance document version 1.0 in November 2009 which helps clarify the
decertification issue. The supplemental guidance document states that if it
becomes known that a LEED project is or was in violation of an MPR,
certification may be revoked, or the certification process may be halted and
that these situations will be handled on a case by case basis. The supplemental
guide also states that the utilities consumption reporting MPR was not intended
to penalize project teams with buildings that do not perform as well as
intended or to create insurmountable technical or legal barriers to registering
a LEED project.
USGBC further clarified its intent by stating
that the intent for the five year reporting requirement was to improve future
version of LEED rather than to strip certification from prior projects.
However, building owners, project developers, builders, and designers should
take great care with the express and implied promises made in their projects as
the question and threat of decertification remains unchanged in LEED ver. 3 and
presently only resides within the language of a supplemental USGBC opinion
statement. Great care should also be taken to correctly report all information
in a LEED certification request as it has and remains USGBC's policy to go back
and review certification in instances where a petitioner either lied or
unintentionally provided inaccurate information thereby misrepresenting the
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George Nicholos is an attorney and architect with Vandeventer Black and
concentrates his law practice in construction, architecture and public
He advises clients on a variety of construction and government
based matters including FOIA requests, complaint filings, building code
compliance reviews and protocols, and building forensic issues. He is
experienced in the analysis of construction and materials issues,
accessibility issues, building code compliance, negotiations, billing
disputes, contracts, claims avoidance/liability shielding and
design/construction defect issues on behalf of builders, developers,
architects, engineers and property owners. He is also skilled in
preparing condition assessments for evaluation and remediation of both
commercial and residential properties.
George's 21 years of experience as an architect includes a full
range of traditional architectural professional services including
project management, fee preparation, fee negotiation, field data
collection, consultant engineer direction and coordination, project
design, construction estimating, preparation of construction documents,
specification writing, shop drawing review and construction
administration for both commercial and residential project types.
George's experience as a forensic architect includes the analysis of an
extensive range of building forensic issues including building/material
defects, building component failure, moisture intrusion, building code
violations, roof failures and settlement damage.
George received a Bachelor of Environmental Design in Architecture
from North Carolina State University, a Master of Architecture from
Georgia Institute of Technology, and a J.D. from Regent University. He
clerked with the Northrop Grumman Newport News Ship Building Law
Department. George is licensed to practice both law and architecture in
Virginia. He is also certified with the National Council Architectural
Registration Board (NCARB) and is a member of the American Institute of
Before joining Vandeventer Black, George worked as a Forensic
Architect with HBA Architecture & Interior Design.