Precedent-Setting CIRs Making a Comeback

One of the most controversial changes with the introduction of LEED 2009 and the hand-off of many LEED processes from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) to the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) was to make Credit Interpretation Rulings (CIRs) non-precedent setting. Prior to the introduction of LEED 2009, project teams could submit a Credit Interpretation Request when they had a question about how to apply a credit to a specific project or when they had an implementation question such as “can I exclude my gymnasium from my views calculation”? Once USGBC responded to the request with a ruling, that ruling set a precedent for all future projects and could be employed over and over again by project teams who were faced with similar situations. USGBC also made all past CIRs public in a database so that project teams with a question could search to see if their question had already been answered. When LEED 2009 was launched and GBCI took over the CIR process, it was announced that while CIRs would still be available, they would now be project specific (non-precedent setting) and would not be available to the public. This meant that you could not benefit from another team’s already submitted CIR, nor could you even use a CIR submitted by your company for one project on a different project. As you can imagine, many of us were not very happy about this change.

A couple days ago, Tristan Roberts, the editor of, posted a news story on LEEDuser that made me very happy. After speaking with one of his contacts at USGBC, he has learned that a new process is in the works that will bring precedent-setting interpretations back. It appears that it will be a two-pronged system where CIRs will remain project specific and then a new category of “LEED Interpretations” that are precedent setting will be added. There will likely be a cost differential between the two options; a CIR currently costs $220 and you would have to assume that the new LEED interpretation would be even more expensive. Also, it appears that a LEED Interpretation will have a longer response time than the non-precedent setting CIR. While the system is still in the works, it seems that it will allow project teams to chose between a low(er) cost, quicker response, project-specific CIR and a higher cost, slower response, precedent-setting LEED Interpretation.

While I am not happy about the likely increased fee this new option will have associated with it, I am extremely happy about the return of a precedent-setting option!

Click here to read the entire article on LEEDuser.


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