"I was so frustrated with the lack of practical resources." This comment could be made by many of those who document buildings for LEED certification, but it happens to come from Joel McKellar, a 25-year-old researcher in the Charleston, S.C., office of architecture firm LS3P Associates, during a discussion about his blog, Real Life LEED.
McKellar, who holds a B.A. in architecture from Clemson, earned his LEED AP status after joining LS3P in late 2005. As the firm upped its green work, he quickly became the go-to person for research and documentation. But he regularly faced questions that online forums were unable to solve. Instead of cursing the darkness, however, McKellar lit a candle, starting a blog to record the things he was learning and help others working on similar projects "find those small pieces of information they can't get anywhere else."
Joel McKellar's blog about LEED is not yet a year old, but it has already shown some influence: A September rant on the slowness of LEED Online received a comment from USGBC president and CEO Rick Fedrizzi (confirmed by the group) apologizing for the trouble.
Credit: Harold Daniels
Real Life LEED launched in March 2008. By his third entry—should one round up or down when sustainable site credit equations result in decimals? (always up, it turns out)?McKellar was hitting his stride. Since then, posts have appeared at least weekly, driven mostly by whatever he happens to be working on: determining hotel occupancy, VOC requirements and fire retardation, or renewable-energy credits, for example. But the site is about more than just LEED minutiae; some entries point to new sustainability resources, while others offer McKellar's commentary. (The blog is not an LS3P publication, he is quick to point out, though he does have the firm's OK to write it.)
McKellar is pleased with the response Real Life LEED has received in its first year; page views, he notes, are growing exponentially. And although he says, "I don't want this to be my full-time job," he does admit to plans for growth: LS3P doesn't do single-family or LEED for Neighborhood Development projects, but regular queries from site visitors on these topics have him thinking he needs to find a counterpart at another firm. "I'll be really excited to see where [the blog] is in a year," McKellar says.
Correction: The print version of this article incorrectly stated that McKellar is located in LS3P Associates' Charlotte, N.C., office.