If you are on the hunt for a sustainability consultant, the options are plenty. Run a Google search for “LEED Consultant” (7.8 million results) or “Green Building Consultant” (608 million results) and you will quickly see the field has a low barrier to entry. However, not all consultants are created equal. We’re going to help you shoot the fish in the barrel.
#1. Is your consultant a LEED AP, with specialty?
This is a minimum qualification for any green building consultant. There are currently over 36,000 LEED APs in the world. LEED AP doesn’t necessarily mean that you are a good consultant, but every good consultant will at least have a LEED AP.
#2. Is your consultant firm a Proven Provider?
In 2014, the USGBC created a program called Proven Provider to designate the quality of its consultants. Proven Providers have a demonstrated ability to produce consistent results. The program is six years old, and for those in the know the qualification is considered essential.
#3. Will your consultant clear that they actually do the work?
There are two kinds of consultants: those who advise, and those who execute. Watch out for tricky proposal language. You probably want to get work off your plate, not get told what to do.
#4. Can your consultant do all of the work?
The best consultants consist of multi-disciplinary teams that have the in-house capability to execute on all of the LEED program requirements. You want a team that knows how to read the LEED manual, but you also want a team that understands energy modeling, commissioning, life cycle assessment, indoor air quality, materials, and construction requirements.
#5. How many projects have they finished?
There are over 67,000 certified buildings. A qualified team has completed at least 100 projects.
#6. What types of projects have they finished?
A company that specializes in one project type is often at a disadvantage in a different typology. Look for firms that have breath and depth of experience. They can go the distance.
#7. Is the company a B Corporation?
Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance — and who bake legal accountability and public transparency into their corporate bylaws. There are over 3,000 companies worldwide that meet this criteria, which is an objective guidepost to how serious your consultant is about “walking the talk.”
#8. Is the company at least Silver Member of USGBC?
This is a basic expectation. Gold and Platinum levels of commitment speak to credibility.
#9. How many years has the company been in business?
LEED has been around since 1994. At least 10 years of experience is considered average.
#10. Have they or their projects won awards?
AIA, USGBC, B Corporation, NAIOP, AGC, and other trade associations have plenty of opportunities for engaged, high quality, organizations to submit their work for recognition. Although icing on the cake, that recognition is a way to objectively attest to quality.
#11. Are their prices transparent?
The best consultants are clear on fixed price and have non-arbitrary pricing structures.
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