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LEED® Dynamic Plaque™ Explained

Editor’s Note: Since this post was published, USGBC has replaced LEED Dynamic PlaqueTM with Arc. Read more about the new system here


We’ve all heard the horror stories of LEED-certified buildings dramatically falling short of their expected performance. Most famously, a New York Times article highlighted the gap between expected and real energy performance, and spurred the USGBC to create ongoing monitoring requirements for LEED-certified buildings. Failing to meet requirements could result in revocation of a building’s LEED status.

Since that time, the USGBC has marched towards ever more rigorous and frequent re-certification requirements with the goal of tightening the gap between expected and real performance. By keeping buildings on a treadmill, it is believed, they will get, and stay, in better shape.

With that goal in mind, LEED introduced its most advanced treadmill yet: behold the LEED Dynamic Plaque – a software platform to collect building, human and transportation performance/behavior, rendering a score that changes as frequently as data streams into the software.

Dynamic Scoring: I SAY “JUMP”, YOU SAY “HOW HIGH”

The open question now is, who benefits from a changing LEED score? Will continuous monitoring benefit building owners and managers, or will it annoy tenants with too-frequent surveys? Will an intermittently changing score be useful to building engineers since they control only a portion of the Plaque’s performance criteria – energy and water, not people’s choice of transportation? Or will they be put off by an imperfect measure of performance that could conflict with the granular and actionable systems-level IT they use to do their job? Finally, will the risk of a moving target and ongoing costs dissuade building owners from adopting the software?

Is the Plaque a treadmill, or a hamster wheel?

There’s much yet to be revealed about who actually benefits from a changing score beside the consortium of consultants, software and hardware vendors that feed off supporting LEED’s new requirements. But there is one clear winner: the USGBC can now extract a stable Software as a Service revenue stream and lucrative building data from asset owners.

Here’s an an abridged look at what building owners are getting, and giving, from USGBC’s newest product as described by USGBC.

The Plaque

The LEED® Dynamic Plaque™ is a building performance monitoring and scoring platform, providing annual LEED re-certification and global benchmarking against other LEED buildings. The plaque displays a performance score out of 100. The score is calculated from data sourced across five categories:

  1. Energy
  2. Water
  3. Waste
  4. Transportation
  5. Human experience

LEED® Dynamic Plaque™ is designed to enable building owners, facilities managers, consultants and other team members to observe trends and make meaningful improvements to building operations that save money, resources and make building occupants more comfortable. -U.S. Green Building Council

Who’s Eligible?

Any building can utilize the LEED Dynamic Plaque except those previously certified under LEED for Homes or Neighborhood Development.

How Does the Performance Score Work?

The performance score corresponds with LEED’s traditional score bands (40-49 = Certified, 50-59 = Silver, 60-79 = Gold, 80+ = Platinum).

Scoring is updated each time new building performance data is entered. There’s no requirement (yet) around the frequency with which data must be entered. The score is the sum of your category scores plus base points. A maximum of 10 base points are available to LEED-certified projects. Each LEED certification type earns you different credits towards your base score.

What about certification/recertification?

Data collected through the LEED Dynamic Plaque can be applied toward LEED certification or recertification. If your project has already been certified under LEED EB or Operations & Maintenance, you’re required to re-certify your project within 5 years of the previous certification. Your project is eligible for recertification after 12 months and annually thereafter.

What’s the difference between ENERGY STAR and leed’s energy score?

The Dynamic Plaque is based upon performance data from LEED projects around the world. It’s not clear what relationship energy performance in Brussels has to do with that in Boston, the comparability of which is at the heart of the US EPA’s established energy benchmarking methodology. Read more about Energy Star and the difference between benchmarking and certification here.

Want to learn more about LEED Dynamic Plaque? Check out the FAQ.

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