The “Licensed Professional Exemption”, as termed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), is a surprising feature (but surprisingly not well documented) of the newly updated 2009 Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED 2009) Green Building Rating Systems.
According to the USGBC Website: “The Licensed Professional Exemption (LPE) is an optional credit documentation path in which professionals can submit license information and a declaration of compliance in lieu of a number of otherwise required submittals.” The LPE basically shifts the responsibility to the professional rather than the submitted documentation and is meant to help streamline the documentation process required for LEED Certification. The documentation required for LEED Certification has been the target of much dissent from both opponents and proponents of the program since its inception a decade ago. On the surface, the LPE compliance path does have quite a bit of potential and may end up ultimately reducing the extensive amount of documentation required for a LEED Certification application but the jury is still out on the usability of the Exemptions. The lack of collective experience from professionals working on LEED projects who have opted to use this compliance path, coupled with the lack of documentation from the USGBC explaining how LPE will ultimately work once a project has reached their review and certification process is causing the said licensed professionals to understandably worry about liability concerns.
According the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) website, all Licensed Professionals may provide their license information when registering for an account with LEED Online or by updating their existing account information. They must provide all of the information applicable to each license that they intend to submit information under including name, professional category, license number, the country, state, territory or province issuing the license and the license expiration date. They must also indicate that they are in good standing and agree that they have the technical competence and expertise necessary to oversee and verify the technical work required for compliance with the criteria for which they are submitting. The provided information is then retained with the user’s LEED Online account and can become applicable for submittal documentation on any LEED project in which they are involved. The liability concern enters the picture with the following warning provided on page 9 in the official GBCI Policy Manual:
The Licensed Professional is not only taking on liability for the achievement of the LEED credit or even the LEED certification, but also risking potential disciplinary action against their licensure.
The extensive documentation necessary to complete LEED application and certification, along with the time and money required to accomplish the documentation alone remains one of the biggest hurdles for the LEED Program. Unfortunately, it still remains to be seen as to whether or not the largest step that the USGBC has taken to mitigate the problem through the LPE Compliance Path actually delivers a viable solution.