Posted by: lcowie | July 13, 2009

No More Public CIRs

Until now, LEED project applicants seeking technical and administrative guidance on how LEED credits apply to their projects could find guidelines by searching existing credit interpretation rulings (CIRs).

From Peter Templeton of the GBCI: “Effective June 26, 2009, credit interpretation requests (CIRs) submitted by any registered project will no longer be vetted by USGBC or its LEED Technical Advisory Groups. As a result, CIR rulings will now be applicable only to the project that submitted them. For LEED version 2 projects, rulings on CIRs submitted prior to June 26, 2009, will be honored until they are retired by USGBC or incorporated into general USGBC-issued project guidance, such as through errata or addenda.”

Mostly negative reviews surround this recent ruling, though speculation from both supporters and critics has surfaced online. Many of the critics cited public credit interpretation rulings as invaluable sources for attaining guidance on LEED projects.

When LEED APs submit a CIR, they are wanting to know if specific strategies will help their LEED project gain credits. Unfortunately LEED is in a stage where it is not clear enough, such that its requirements may be interpreted several different ways.

This criticism stems from the embarrassing idea that LEED APs must tell their clients that they are not sure how the USGBC will rule on the project or if certain points will be accepted. One critic described it as such:

“Now it just makes all LEED look worse to clients when a supposedly experienced person with a handful of certified projects has to say, ‘Well, I just don’t know, we can ask USGBC, but it will cost…’”

Now instead of being able to take advantage of other people’s questions, project leaders will have to pay to ask the question themselves.

CIRs used to be precedent-setting rulings. Now that they are not, reviewers must take each project into account. Another critic said the following:

“It seems that eliminating CIRs will only make the certification process less efficient – the same issues will likely be raised over and over again by different projects simply because the rulings are not made public.”

Proponents of the ruling, however, had their constructive suggestions ready.

Considering CIRs are no longer precedent-setting, some project managers believe they should at least be publicized in a database. This information would give project teams important guidance difficult to attain from other resources.

If not a database, said one, then a suitable solution would be to include the rulings in the USGBC guidebook.

“I don’t really want the CIRs saved, I just want the information and rulings in them to be condensed into the Guidebook. I think I read they were not going to add project specific rulings into the Guidebook. If that’s the case, then I think they should go back to allowing each project 2 free CIRs.”

The CIR debate is just one of the recent changes surrounding LEED. It will be interesting to see further reactions and subsequent updates to this ruling. Please share your thoughts about the matter in a comment.

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