Already a member of the U.S. Green Building Council or considering becoming a national member of the USGBC?, you might want to make a decision before October 1, 2012 as membership is about to change and listening to the response by current members, they are not happy.
Currently, membership is based on one of twelve categories i.e. educational institutions, professional firms, federal government etc. with a yearly fee based on gross annual revenue, population, type or asset base. With fees ranging from $300 to $12,500 at the top for manufacturers with revenues of more than $10 billion it would appear this system seems cumbersome. Many unilateral benefits came with this membership such as reduced fees to attend Greenbuild, educational programs but most importantly a discount on registration and certification fees for LEED registered projects. This is a big selling point for being a national rather than chapter member which is intended for individuals not organizations and does not provide for these benefits. It is also a huge selling point for a company to provide a service to the client – reducing their upfront LEED costs. These benefits were uniform across the board and not dependent on which category the dues fee was derived from.
No more, the new membership is being touted as a simplified four level dues structure: Organizational, Silver, Gold and Platinum. With dues of $300, $1500, $5,000 and $20,000 respectively it removes some of the advantages of the current membership which provides the same benefits for all, most importantly choose to be “less committed” to USGBC by choosing the $300 membership and no longer does your membership provides for a discount on either registration or certification fees. This will have a huge impact on the smaller companies who have been the backbone of the success of the USGBC. The benefits they currently enjoy now will cost $1200 more; a jump from $300 to $1,500. For small companies struggling to survive in an economically unfriendly world this will prove to be a deterrent to not only attracting new members but could potentially turn current members away.
Why would the USGBC take such a position? From the many blogs I have read, the reaction is overwhelmingly negative and not well received. It could be that because LEED is now international (November 2010), the need for their “backbone” is gone. Or perhaps with a more “elephant in the room” scenario, the original LEED 2012 which became LEED v4 because of the huge push back from manufacturers to the proposed “chemicals of concern” and delayed voting on the new rating system until July 2013. The current membership category that would benefit most from the four tier system might be a manufacturer who can get almost every benefit they receive now but at a membership level that is less than half what a large manufacturer might pay. Cynical? Perhaps but it does give pause to consider the real intent of this reorganization. Or maybe, one more scenario, they simply want more members and publicizing that the membership fee structure will change on October 1, 2012 is a way to recruit many new members quickly; the same mad rush scenario as when LEED Accredited Professionals were divided into LEED Green Associate and LEED Accredited Professional with Specialty designation in July 2009.
The USGBC might want to consider their intent here and perhaps rethink this restructure of membership dues but then again there is a very prominent banner on the top of their page that states they will be offline for site maintenance on Sunday, September 30, 2012 from 11am to 11pm EST.