Soren Horst

You’ve got the visually pleasing LEED Dynamic Plaque, USGBC’s groundbreaking building performance platform, mounted on the wall of your LEED-certified building. Now what?

USGBC’s Vice President of Finance and Administration Dave Witek has worked intimately with the LEED Dynamic Plaque since its release in 2013, working to maintain a competitive performance score at USGBC’s HQ on a daily basis. Below, Dave discusses how he utilizes this powerful platform to optimize operations at the USGBC offices. 

Q. What does building performance mean to you?

A. Coming from the accounting side, I’m metrics driven, so to me, it’s a metrics discussion. It’s building a benchmark, knowing the desired result, and then measuring yourself against it.

Q. In what ways does the LEED Dynamic Plaque make your job more manageable?

A. It gives black and white results. It shows us where we’re supposed to be and where we are. So there’s no subjectivity to it or question about how we’re doing. It tells me if we’re doing the right things or the wrong things.And, if we’re doing the wrong things I’ve got to react and fix them, so from that standpoint it makes it much easier.

Q. Assuming USGBC HQ already had ample performance data, how did the LEED Dynamic Plaque enhance it or affect it?

A. What we had before wasn’t really tangible to me, and with the plaque, it’s up there in front of us all the time and changing every time we put a new input in there, so I think its more meaningful and allows us to do more actionable items. What we were tracking before wasn’t as simple as the LEED Dynamic Plaque. I needed a report to understand it. The plaque lays it out in a much more straightforward way. 

Q. What do you consider the best feature of the LEED Dynamic Plaque?

A. It shows you where you are. It is a true, real time indicator of how you’re performing. 

Q. What do you think the LEED Dynamic Plaque has changed at USGBC HQ?

A. I think at HQ it helps show that we’re walking the talk. One of the biggest criticisms we get here is that you can build a building and get it certified, but five years later… is it really performing how it’s supposed to perform? So to me, the plaque provides proof of performance, and that opens up the doors for improvements. Knowledge is power, without a doubt. 

Q. In early May, you sent out an email to the staff at USGBC HQ regarding the LEED Dynamic Plaque’s performance score dropping, and some strategies to fix it. Why the update? 

A. I wanted to try to send out some bad news but in a potentially opportunistic way. It was really about highlighting people’s attention to the plaque. The plaque showed that even though we at USGBC feel like we’re the greenest people around, the way that we were behaving in the office did not reflect that. It was also a good chance to highlight the benefits of the plaque by illustrating that the way we use the space impacts performance even if it’s already been certified as LEED Platinum.

Q. What were some of the specific strategies you mentioned to improve this outcome?

A. Increasing recycling and compost items and also reducing landfill items, specifically paper towels. We also added pictures next to bins and visual cues on the kitchen television monitors indicating what goes where. 

Q. The LEED Dynamic Plaque performance score is focused on outcomes. How can a score rooted in outcomes be related to a LEED-certified building score, which is more indicative of strategies?

A. The strategies in LEED are stepping-stones to positive results and then the performance score helps to monitor and measure the impacts of our strategies. So, we come up with a game plan, we monitor and measure, and then we see the results, which gives us the ability to see if we made the right decisions or if we need to adapt. The LEED Dynamic Plaque makes our LEED strategies relevant every day. It creates a holistic, full-picture LEED experience, which was our vision.

Q. What would you say to a project manager/team considering installing the LEED Dynamic Plaque, but worried about their score being too low? 

A. A low score doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re failing, and by getting the LEED Dynamic Plaque it actually indicates that you’re trying. You should celebrate the fact that you’re at least trying, and then take it as an opportunity to identify where your areas of improvement are. It’s going to highlight those gaps for you and make it easy to figure out what you need to fix. So, to me, a bad score isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s about what you do with the information once you have it.

Q. For projects that haven’t already become involved with the LEED Dynamic Plaque, why should they?

A. It’s going to show that you’re a leader in this movement. It’s going to show that you’re operating transparently. It’s going to provide accountability: you say you’re going to do something. Are you really doing it? And I think it’s going to highlight savings and savings opportunities, which is another way to further improve the bottom line.

Learn more about the LEED Dynamic Plaque