Back in December, I wrote about LEED creep in the context of the Gaia Napa Valley Hotel, which at the time, and after opening in November, was waiting on its LEED certification from USGBC in order to obtain a $1 million rebate for hotel occupancy tax revenues from the American Canyon, California City Council. The article that I referenced at the time indicated that the developer, Wen-I Chang (who now has a second Gaia hotel under construction in Anderson, California, with plans in the works for a third in Merced), expected to receive certification within two months. The actual rating was critical because the City Council conditioned Chang’s tax rebate on the final LEED designation as awarded by USGBC.
According to the San Francisco Business Times, the hotel just received LEED Gold, becoming the first hotel in the U.S. to earn the designation- but a full eight months after opening its doors. Gaia racked up 43 of the 69 possible LEED points, and Chang told the Chronicle that he was “jubilant at LEED Gold. You don’t know how difficult certification was.” It does not appear that Chang is seeking any sort of redress from USGBC or his project team for the delay in certification, nor were there any further details regarding whether American Canyon continued to withhold the tax rebate after the initial article that I reported on back in December.
USGBC is certainly entitled to take as long as necessary to evaluate LEED applications, and the explosion in green projects that are registering with the organization is undoubtedly contributing to its backlog. However, it is incumbent upon local governments to be mindful of the type of time frames that are at play when drafting legislation that conditions incentives on a certain level of LEED certification or mandating such levels for specific types of construction. Otherwise, LEED creep has the potential to become something much more sinister for both municipalities and the project teams that are required to comply with green building mandates.
- Dangers to Developers Posed by LEED Creep (gbNYC)
- Napa Hotel Garners LEED Gold (SF Biz Times)
- Gaia Napa Valley Hotel