Germany drives the LEED Standard in Europe: Interview with Kay Killman in GGBA

German Green Building Association just organised a large LEED conference in Berlin. The President, Kay Killman, shares his insights on how the new version of LEED works, why it is attractive for international companies and how the standard is leading and changing the market.

What is the German Green Building Association, and who is behind it?

The German Green Building Association (GGBA) is an organisation composed of German green building consultants, general contractors, real estate companies and manufacturers. We share the common ambition of making German buildings more sustainable. We take the LEED approach as starting point. LEED is the standard of the US Green Building Council (USGBC) and focuses a lot on continuous improvement, cooperation and exchange of experience. The GGBA is the official German representative at the LEED International Round Table of the USGBC.

Could you tell us a bit more about the situation of LEED in Europe, and in Germany in particular?

LEED is the most widely recognised and widely used green building program across the globe, which makes it very attractive for international companies. A lot of international companies choose to have offices and branches in Germany, and as a result, the demand for LEED certified buildings is growing very fast over here. Germany is the main LEED country in Europe, and the 6th LEED country worldwide.

But the rest of Europe is following. We are currently looking into forming a network of Green Building Associations in France, Netherlands, the UK and Spain … to promote LEED, share our experiences and work closer together on a European level.

You just organised a large LEED conference in Berlin. What was the goal and what is the outcome?

Version LEED 2009 will be ‘sunset’ in October 2016 and will then be fully replaced by LEED v4 . Currently both versions are in use, which can be seen as a transition phase. The conference’s ambition was to inform stakeholders about the implications of this new standard. It was the first technical LEED event ever in Europe. And with over 100 attendees from 16 countries, it was a big success. It proves that LEED is moving in the right direction all over Europe. We will repeat this next year!

How is LEED’s criteria for Green Power welcomed by the sector?

The Green Power criteria is not new. They also existed under the older versions of LEED. The problem was that LEED just referred to American RECs, and to the American ecolabel Green-e. A lot of project owners bought Renewable Energy Certificates in the USA to get the LEED Green Power credit.

This is now changing. The new texts for Europe (officially the ‘Alternative Compliance Path for Europe’) refer to Guarantees of Origin and EKOenergy. This makes it much more concrete, and attractive for European projects to switch to renewable electricity.

You just made an online course about Green power, together with EKOenergy. What have you learned from that course?

A lot. It was a very interesting process. I learned about Guarantees of Origin and about the role of ecolabels. It has really clarified the options of the LEED Green Power credit to me.

I am now also reaching out to German electricity suppliers and asking them to offer us electricity products that conform to LEED, in particular via the adoption of the EKOenergy label.

Where is LEED going?

LEED is increasingly leading and changing the market. We are evolving year after year. One of the interesting evolutions is the introduction of LEED’s Dynamic Plaque. This is a building performance monitoring and scoring platform. It measures building performance across five categories: energy, water, waste, transportation and human experience, and generates a current performance score (out of 100). This is updated whenever new building data enters the platform. It helps monitoring the environmental impact of buildings and to continuously improve that impact.

And it won’t stop there. The LEED tools for buildings can with some adjustments also be applied to entire cities. This is easier than we think! Look out for some announcements at this year’s Greenbuild in Washington D.C. in November!

And how will the relation between LEED and EKOenergy develop?

EKOenergy has turned out to be a very valuable Subject Matter Expert (SME)  for the specific area of renewable electricity. The experts from EKOenergy have helped us better understand the market and we are looking forward to continue working with them in the future.

Do you have a call to action that you would like the readers to hear about?

There is a rapidly increasing awareness that sustainability is a ‘must’ for all. And as we are spending most of our time in buildings, we have to take into account the impact of these buildings and to continuously reduce the negative impacts. We can proceed fast if we combine ambition with openness to learn and exchange experience.