LEED App Store Coming Soon? USGBC Opens Up Data Flows
With a new initiative called “LEED Automation,” the U.S. Green Building Council has announced the beginning of a new model for LEED documentation and reporting. Currently, teams submit LEED project data for review by entering it into the LEED Online website. LEED Automation makes it possible to collect that data in third-party applications and upload it for review without going through the LEED Online interface. “The world of LEED execution just got faster, better, and cheaper,” promised Mike Opitz, USGBC’s vice president for LEED, at a Greenbuild 2010 session.
Bypassing LEED Online
Given complaints that the current LEED Online system, launched in 2009, has been slow and erratic, many project teams will be excited about the possibility of bypassing it—although it remains to be seen how well third-party developers can improve on it, and what they’ll charge for their solutions.
Among the services under development is LoraxPRO, a LEED project management platform. At Greenbuild, LoraxPRO company president David Pratt demonstrated how LoraxPRO integrates with Google Maps to streamline documentation for LEED’s community connectivity credit, and then uploads that documentation directly into LEED Online. For facility managers, a new tool called O+M Track from the veteran LEED consultants at Green Building Services organizes all the information needed for a LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Management (LEED-EBOM) submission. The company is working with USGBC to automate the dataflow from O+M Track to LEED Online.
One of the more tedious jobs in submitting for LEED certification is filling out the LEED Online form for the energy performance prerequisite and credit. Nearly all the information needed on that form exists in either the input or output files of a series of energy simulations, so working with software providers to automate transfer of that data into LEED Online is high on USGBC’s priority list.
The potential of LEED Automation is not limited to streamlining the certification process, says Scot Horst, senior vice president for LEED at USGBC: “It will help the LEED user get a lot more effective and efficient at doing all things connected to green building.” One such technology demonstrated during Greenbuild was Lucid Design Group’s Building Dashboard, which tracks energy, water, and other flows in real time. Horst envisions using that data flow to support the LEED 2009 requirement that all projects report their energy and water use to USGBC. Lucid’s Dashboard is one of a handful of “fantastic tracking tools” that could become “a dynamic LEED plaque that would allow us to connect with how the building is actually performing and update its level of certification over time,” Horst told EBN.
LEED Automation also introduces the potential for data flows out of LEED Online. “We’ve got more data on green buildings than anyone in the world,” noted Horst. “Part of LEED Automation is figuring out how to use that data.” USGBC’s research team has launched a project to make much of that data publicly available, through its new Green Building Information Gateway (GBIG). The GBIG pilot featured data on projects in Illinois—in deference to the Chicago location of Greenbuild 2010—with both a website and a pair of iPhone/iPad apps that allow users to explore project data and compare it to other projects in a selected group. Horst views GBIG as an example of how technology can help with green building generally, telling users “Not just which credits were achieved, but how were those credits achieved, and starting to share information on best practices in their area.”
60 companies working
As of mid-December over 60 companies had expressed interest in working with USGBC on LEED Automation projects, according to Horst. USGBC is working with those companies to figure out not only the technical aspects of connecting their software to LEED Online, but also the business model, dealing with questions such as “Who pays for the development costs?” said Horst.
Do you have an idea for a great application connecting to LEED Online? Share your ideas in the discussion area below. Companies working on software that can support the LEED process are invited by USGBC to add their names to a list of interested parties.
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Manager, Business Solutions
U.S. Green Building Council