Arc – GBCI’s Path to Performance Has a Toll Booth

GBCI’s introduction of their new Arc platform is exciting. I have been a LEED supporter and practitioner now for 15+ years and have witnessed all of its growing pains. Arc promises to be a new phase in the evolution of LEED and environmental performance measurement. Bring it on!

No one can question LEED’s influence. Although LEED’s impact is continually subject to debate, I’m not here to go down that road. Arc’s release is an indication of the maturity of the Rating System. LEED was created as a predictive tool for evaluating a building’s environmental performance and it has positively influenced how green buildings are designed. For the most part though, LEED Certification has been a prediction of how a building is supposed to perform, and LEED buildings have been criticized for not performing as well as predicted. LEED O+M on the other hand, the under-appreciated middle child of the family, rewards performance over promise but has yet to fully shine.

The launch of Arc, introduced with much fanfare at Greenbuild in October, has been much anticipated. It hopefully will be the vehicle to move LEED towards becoming the performance-based rating system it truly wants to be, because when LEED measures performance LEED has impact. Arc’s moment has arrived and I’m ready to take it out for a spin.

I can see how this can benefit my projects and clients. I am particularly excited about incorporating Arc into the work we are doing around community-based sustainability through USGBC’s ADVANCE program. So imagine my dismay when the first thing we hit on the road to better green buildings is a toll booth.

$900 for a 5-year subscription is the price to pass go, $1200 if you don’t intend to certify. HerI’mthinking there’s a fast lane for registered projects, but I don’t see one.

“LEED registration provides your team with access to LEED Online and now access to the fully integrated arc platform.”

That’s from the USGBC LEED pricing announcement back on November 4th. It goes on to say: In order to lock in current LEED registration rates and also receive access to arc, projects must register by Dec. 1, 2016”. Fair enough, I have plenty of projects registered that could benefit from Arc. The $300 LEED registration price increase that went into effect today reflects this added benefit. I get it. What I don’t get is why, when I navigate through the  website to my projects on the Arc dashboard I get stopped by a $900 project registration fee. Haven’t I paid that already? Why is the Arc premium for projects registered today $300 but for projects registered yesterday $900?

Even worse, is Arc only available if you pay an additional fee beyond registration? We need some clarification here. I see more shiny green buildings on the horizon, but right now I can’t get there.

Granted this is only day-1 and I have been squirming to unwrap this present like a kid on Christmas morning. I cruised through the website but the FAQs are on the light side. I’m feeling like someone forgot to buy batteries and all this new toy can do is sit there and look pretty. Still it’s a whole lot better than a box of socks. Arc has potential but needs to be accessible. The dynamic plaque is withering on the vine because its value can’t be justified in the eyes of most building owners. It’s not about the plaque, it’s about what it does, which is where Arc gets it right.

So well done Scott, Mahesh, and crew, you are on the right track. Arc is going to be good for LEED and good for everyone who wants to measure the positive impacts green buildings have on the environment. The more this platform is able to work seamlessly in the background, the more powerful a tool it will become. I just need to get past this tollbooth to find out what Arc really can do.

Next Blog