How to get your carwash LEED certified
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How to get your carwash LEED certified

The global model for rating sustainable buildings is certified as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). A LEED certification sets itself apart from other green credentials by being cost-effective — saving billions of dollars in energy and millions in water, maintenance and waste savings. Companies can even qualify for tax credits or grants.  

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The LEED program rates the design and construction of a building based on a sophisticated schema. A site is awarded credits based on how it scores against specific criteria. If the facility receives a certain amount of points, it will be awarded one of four LEED certifications: certified, silver, gold or platinum. 

Consider pursuing LEED certification for your carwash. The process will help your company become more cost-effective, and the government often incentivizes green building practices. Here’s how to make your car wash LEED certified. 

Register for LEED certification

The first step in becoming certified is registering with the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). Before doing so, you’ll want to ensure your business meets the following requirements:

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  • Does your car wash comply with environmental laws?
  • Do you have a complete and permanent building?
  • Are you committed to sharing your water and energy usage data with LEED?

Review additional guidelines to better understand the necessary steps1 before registering your project.

Next, create an account with LEED Online to start your project.2 The online platform keeps all details streamlined through a project report card, so you’ll know how your carwash is earning LEED credits. Your entire team can contribute to the project through the same account. You can easily assign them the necessary roles to complete needed tasks.

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Assemble a LEED project team

Consider who you want on your project team. Each member is responsible for specific tasks throughout LEED certification. Here are the roles and responsibilities of each team member:

Project owner

The owner holds responsibility for the carwash, exercises authority over the business and accepts the LEED agreement. It might be wise for the carwash owner to be the project owner. If there are multiple owners, the USGBC requests you complete a Confirmation of Primary Owner’s Authority form and identify a primary owner3 for the duration of project certification.

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Project agent

An agent acts on behalf of the business. The owner grants them authority to register and complete the project. However, not all certification projects have agents.

Project administrator

Administrators are project managers who oversee all aspects of LEED certification. Ensure your administrator is well versed in LEED requirements, as they will be responsible for checking that your application is ready to be reviewed by Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI). Upon first registering your project, the software will automatically assign the administrator role to the owner. However, you can reassign this role to whomever you see fit. 

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Take time to review who best within your organization will serve in these project roles. If you want your carwash to be certified successfully, you’ll need to utilize the talent within your business best.

Gather your materials

With your project team at the helm, this next stage of the certification process should be a breeze. LEED assigns certification based on a credit system, rating the quality and construction of your building design. The GBCI will give your car wash credits according to how it performs against LEED’s qualifications, which will determine if it’s certified, silver, gold or platinum.

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Your project team has full access to the LEED credit library. Use it to strategize how you want to go about collecting points for your certification process.4 Have your administrator task specific team members with certain credits. They can run calculations, analyze findings and gather documents for your LEED application. The administrator can compile the results and prepare the final report.

Submit the LEED application

Before you submit your application, upload all your documents to your project home at LEED Online. You’ll want to perform a thorough check of all your materials to ensure everything is in order.

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  • Click on each application document to make sure everything loads properly.
  • Cross-check your materials against the LEED credit library to confirm that you include all necessary data points.
  • Label all file attachments to correspond with your documents.
  • Include only relevant information and documentation rather than overly long reports.

With these tips in mind, you’ll be ready to submit your application for consideration. You’ll need to pay a certification fee for LEED to review your application.

The review process

After the GBCI reviews your application, they conduct a preliminary review — checking the documents for compliance within the LEED credentialing process. They’ll refer to the credit library and your attempted number completed. Within 25 business days, the GBCI will inform you which credits they awarded and which they mark as pending, and will request additional information as needed. If satisfied, your team can accept this preliminary review, or you can revise your application documentation and attempt different credits.

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If needed, you can submit additional documentation for additional credits. This would be the final review stage and optional if your team were content with the GBCI’s previous findings. Like in the preliminary review stage, within 25 days, the GBCI will respond with their determinations, informing you of the credits they awarded your carwash.

An optional third stage within the review process exists for appeals. If you’re still disappointed with the GBCI’s results, you may submit additional paperwork to your application. Note that a fee accompanies this appeal stage.

LEED-certified carwash success stories

Several carwashes are making a move to LEED certification. Going green and certifying LEED is a fantastic opportunity to set yourself apart from other brands. Consumers understand the importance of sustainability and offering a service that prioritizes green practices will help you win business and a favorable reputation5 within your community.

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Here are two carwashes that went LEED and found great success:

The Smart Car Wash

Established in 2010, the Smart Car Wash is the world’s first LEED-certified carwash. Its commitment to the environment and investing in green technology allows the Smart Car Wash to save money on energy consumption. It grants these savings to customers by offering unlimited washes for $22 a month. Affordable rates are a sure way to get people committed to washing their cars to give an automatic carwash a try.

Tommy’s Express Car Wash

In 2018, Tommy’s Car Wash became the only LEED-approved carwash in Texas, earning its silver certification. It utilizes Rotating Bed Biofilm Reactor (RBBR) technology to conserve water usage. The RBBR technology allows Tommy’s Car Wash to reuse close to 90% of all water utilized for each wash — much higher than the industry average of 40%.

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There are numerous examples of car dealerships that are LEED-certified. However, at the moment, fewer smaller business carwash models are pursuing LEED certification. 

Get started today

Is LEED certification the right move for your carwash? Green certification is a fantastic way to help your business save money and qualify for tax incentives. Certifying with LEED is also a good move for brand recognition, as it proves you care for sustainability. Begin the process for LEED certification today.


Oscar Collins is the founder and editor-in-chief of Modded, where he writes about cars, car trends and auto news. Follow him on Twitter @TModded for frequent updates on his work.

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