LEED Volume Certification from the Industrial Developer Point of View

Gaia Development shares how the volume program has been useful for clients.

An edited version of this appears on the USGBC National website.

LEED volume project: 851 Lawrence Drive, Thousand Oaks, CA (Photo courtesy of Rexford Industrial)

The industrial real estate sector is experiencing massive growth. Since 2017, the market size has increased annually by 4%. With the increased awareness of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues, industrial developers are integrating sustainability strategies into business practices and organizational culture to meet internal and external stakeholder expectations.  

The pressure to reduce and disclose greenhouse gas emissions is driving companies to set net-zero energy and carbon reduction targets. To achieve their goals, industrial developers are turning to LEED certification.

USGBC’s LEED volume certification is optimal for organizations who are registering at least 25 projects over a period of three years. For developers, the streamlined process saves time and money while supporting developers’ ESG strategies. We interviewed three of our clients in the LEED volume program, who are active in Southern California, to hear why they chose to do LEED volume and how their experience has been. 

  1. Erin Thrash, VP of Architecture and Design at Rexford Industrial
  2. Josh Cox, Vice President of Development at Hillwood–A Perot Company
  3. Nicholas Ilagan, Co-Founder and Managing Partner at DIV Industrial, former Senior Vice President, Asset Management at CapRock Partners

Here’s what they had to say – 

Was there any specific item that tipped the scale for you to use LEED volume?

“Getting to certification quicker was huge. Fewer hours for our team meant they could use those hours somewhere else, either on different projects or for personal “Rex-Flex” time. Plus, we get a discount on the fees.” – Erin Thrash

“Hillwood is committed to sustainable development, so LEED volume offered a great platform for us to streamline our building certifications, create consistency across our projects, and communicate our green features to the local communities we invest in. Given the significant number of projects that Hillwood works on every year, LEED volume was a perfect fit.” – Josh Cox

““LEED certification is at the forefront of DIV Industrial’s development strategy, driven by our commitment to environmental stewardship and social responsibility. It is important to our team that we establish a strong relationship with USGBC as we build DIV Industrial’s portfolio and push to raise the bar for future developments across the industry. LEED volume is helpful in managing cost efficiencies, which is critical to building assets that are on the leading edge of technology, efficiency and design. It is also an attractive feature that provides a level of comfort for future tenants, specifically Fortune 500 companies, focused on meeting sustainability requirements.” – Nicholas Ilagan

If you were to do LEED volume again, would you do anything differently?

“No, the LEED volume process is fluid and supportive. Throughout my experience managing institutional-level industrial assets, USGBC and Gaia have proven to be valuable partnerships.  In launching DIV Industrial, a minority-owned firm focused on prioritizing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and implementing responsible environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices within the industrial real estate industry, the decision to initiate the LEED volume process was obvious and straightforward.” – Nicholas Ilagan

“It was a painless process to set it up. I really enjoyed how we could get creative to push alternate credits. And it helped improve our other specs.” – Erin Thrash

How much internal time did it take you to get set up for LEED volume? 

“The time commitment was manageable thanks to our track record of sustainable development and relationships with our consultants Gaia; they took care of the heavy lifting to solidify our development strategy in a repeatable program.” – Josh Cox

“My estimate is 80 hours between a couple of people. It was easy because we had such a solid building spec to begin with that we were in a good place once the consultants did the first round of analysis.” – Erin Thrash

What was your timeline from USGBC commitment to awarded LEED volume? 

“The timeline was fast. We heard it could take a significant amount of time, but we were approved sooner than we expected, even beating Gaia’s expedited schedule who ensured our projects would not be delayed.” – Josh Cox

““The initial proposed timeline was 14 months, but through Gaia’s leadership and guidance, the process was complete in only seven months.” – Nicholas Ilagan

How does LEED volume support your ESG Strategy? 

“LEED volume is a major component of our ESG strategy, which is a core focus of DIV’s overall approach. We are building for the betterment of the environment, our industry and its people, and LEED volume is instrumental in allowing us to meet our objectives. The platform provides a strong foundation, and with the alignment and support of USGBC and Gaia, DIV Industrial is well-positioned for growth and success. – Nicholas Ilagan

“The LEED volume process allowed us to focus on newer technologies that will enhance the value of our buildings for all stakeholders, such as advanced metering and renewable energy. As we worked through the process, we pushed ourselves to learn and grow, which makes us better partners in development and with the environment wherever we work.” – Josh Cox

“We went from Certified to Silver because of this program. With our sustainability consultants Gaia, were able to move the needle quickly to not only have a bigger LEED commitment but to elevate Rexford’s overall standards and create better buildings.” – Erin Thrash

About the Author

Ryan is a principal at Gaia. He is responsible for the positive growth and diversification of the firm’s offerings and brings two decades of experience in real estate development, sustainable energy systems, and green building expertise to the projects Gaia consults on. (www.gaiadevelopment.com)

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