Green Building Research Institute & Akintayo Management Group Help GSA with LEED Certification Process

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US Federal Court House Project Achieves LEED Gold Certification

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Green Building Research Institute (GBRI) and Akintayo Management Group (AMG) joined forces to support the Region 4 Design and Construction Division (D&C) of the General Services Administration (GSA) in completing the LEED certification process for the United States Courthouse in New Bern, North Carolina. This represents a remarkable achievement in which, through teaming, GBRI and AMG utilized their unique approach to LEED Project Management; along with their overall knowledge and expertise with the LEED evaluation and submittal process, to exceed GSA’s design target of LEED Certified. As the end of the Federal Government’s fiscal year approached; on August 4th, 2013, the Modernization of the US Courthouse New Bern, NC project was awarded the certification of “LEED Gold” under the New Construction & Major Renovation rating system. This represents two ranks above the original goal of “LEED Certified”.

The General Services Administration was awarded almost $5.6 billion through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to modernize federal buildings and convert them into high-performing green buildings. The US Federal Post Office and Court House in New Bern, NC was included on the 2010 GSA project list at $3.1 million. The budget, design and construction of this project met the standards required under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) and Executive Orders 13423 and 13514, with an anticipation of “LEED Certified”. However, by expanding their project team to include Team GBRI/AMG the opportunity to attain a higher certification level was soon realized. Through partnering, GBRI and AMG came to the table with not only expertise in sustainability but also a multi industry approach to Project Management that seamlessly supported GSA’s aggressive schedule, normally encountered in the accelerated scheduling of a Design Build environment.

Also, this project came with some very unique opportunities. It was not only a modernization project, but also, a Federal Court House on the National Historic Preservation Register. Each of these attributes, require a special understanding of LEED credit intent and knowledge of sustainability metrics in such environments, to be effective. Traditional thinking towards document submittal for LEED credits such as construction waste management, material re-use, recycled content, FSC certified wood, re-evaluation of energy modelling and day lighting analysis; had to be fine-tuned. Team GBRI/AMG bought, both, insight and a systematic LEED project management approach to GSA’s team. This project’s success was realized by the ability to bring together all stakeholders from, both, public and private sectors to collaborate on and implement a clear responsibility matrix to move the project forward on schedule, within budget. Jeslin Varghese, Director of Sustainability of GBRI, and Tina Akintayo, Principal of AMG, worked with Steve Lamas of D&C’s Engineering Branch and his team to re-evaluate the project’s scope, recalculate LEED credit eligibility, and create a roadmap for taking the project to the Gold level. With Jeslin’s extensive experience working on similar projects with Department of Defense(DoD), GSA, etc., coupled with Tina’s project management perspective, the team was able to quickly discern a path forward which maximized on achievable credentials and minimized cost."

Varghese and Akintayo are both LEED APs and strong proponents of green building rating and certification systems such as LEED, Green Globes, Living Building Challenge, etc. There has been vigorous debate over the last few years concerning the federal government’s requirement to use the LEED rating system on federal projects of a certain size. Varghese and Akintayo wanted to help GSA bring the US Federal Court House Project to conclusion, while demonstrating the importance of the project team’s training and experience.

Green Building Research Institute is a small and minority owned business, dedicated to promoting green building design principles by offering consulting and educational resources to homeowners and design, engineering, and construction companies. GBRI offers in-depth LEED GA and AP exam preparation materials, informative courses on current sustainability topics, and a variety of webinars.

Akintayo Management Group is a certified DBE, minority and women owned organization committed to offering sound, tactical approaches to Project Management and Business Development. AMG works to establish strategic partnerships with companies to define and achieve project specific goals designed to maximize their returns. From LEED Certification Evaluations and other sustainability initiatives, AMG works in partnership with clients to deliver solutions that reflect both their unique strategic priorities and their organizational realities.

GBRI and AMG will host a 1-hour free webinar on Lessons Learned from the GSA LEED Gold Project. Additional information is available online at

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Jeslin Varghese

Tina Akintayo
Akintayo Management Group