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My longest-standing friend in the world turned out to be an HVAC engineer (who voted for McCain — I don't think I even know him anymore), and the last time we got in touch, before I could tell him what I've been doing, he started telling me how much he dislikes LEED. "We do most of that stuff anyway, but now we have to spend a bunch of time we don't have filling out forms to prove that we did them. I hate the whole thing." Though so far, I'm still down with what LEED and other eco-rating systems can achieve, I realized that my pal, Jeff, has a valid point, and also thought he'd identified a business opportunity — certification specialist, or something. When I got to GreenBuild a couple days later, I realized that someone's already on it, sort of. EcoScorecard is a growing database of products whose manufacturers have paid to belong. The database lists products, prices, environmental characteristics, etc., and includes its potential LEED value — recycled content, or local sourcing, or whatever. When you're done with a project, you get a report documenting your points. The service is free to designers, of course; why would ecoScorecard place any impediment in the way? Besides, they make their cash from listers. If I were a designer, spec-ing products, and I had multiple ways to do it, I can see how I'd lean toward something like this. One potential drawback I perceive is the breadth of the products available. Such a service would only be useful if it listed the products I wanted — or at least enough of them to bother. Armstrong and Karastan are among the only brands I recognize, but then again, I'm not in the biz. Meanwhile, there's still a niche, albeit not a very interesting one to fill. Big firms can task staff to handle the paperwork (though Jeff says that in his experience, it's just another burden in a do-more-with-less atmosphere), but smaller ones might be taxed to do the right thing.

Author and wellness innovator Michael Prager helps smart companies
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