By Sun Kim
Posting in Architecture
What are the best and worst things about the most recognized green building standard?
In the United States, the gold standard of green building certification is LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED certification verifies that building projects were designed and built to achieve high performance in the areas of sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.
Developed by a scientist and a real-estate developer, LEED was a business-savvy strategy to market sustainable building. The numbers and points that LEED is based on connect what used to be nebulous terms like green and eco-friendly to something building owners, managers and developers value: money. LEED showed that building in an environmentally conscientious way would increase efficiency and decrease cost.
In a well researched article for ArchDaily, Vanessa Quirk presents 5 pros and 5 cons of LEED:
1. LEED's research-backed standards give Green Design credibility
2. LEED's standards focus on the life cycle evaluation of a building and prioritize long term environmental benefits
3. LEED legitimized/mainstreamed Green Design as a business investment, jumping the mental hurdles of high initial cost and green building as a "pseudo-science”
4. LEED’s cachet as a status symbol often ensures follow-through of Green building practices
5. The governing organization of LEED, the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), is receptive to change
1. The unweighted (i.e. a point is a point) system encourages project teams to “game the system" by going after easy points at the expense of actual environmental benefits.
2. LEED is difficult and expensive for individual homeowners and smaller non commercial projects.
3. LEED ignores context and performance.
4. The closer LEED gets to becoming a mandate, the more blindly it will be followed
5. LEED does not inspire, encourage, or recognize innovations
The last con is the most interesting and relevant to design. Even though LEED is one of the most recognized and highly regarded certification programs worldwide, its cachet and its point system might be holding back innovations in green building by not rewarding them.
Where is LEED Leading Us?…And Should We Follow? [ArchDaily]
Image: Megan Jett for ArchDaily
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Apr 24, 2012
"The closer LEED gets to becoming a mandate, the more blindly it will be followed" Who came up with this logic? LEED and the USGBC are under constant scrutiny and continue to accept public comment on ways to improve the system. V4 has been postponed I believe three times now because they wanted to make sure they get it right. They know it will never be perfect in everyone's eyes but they are certainly reaching out to find ways to make it the best that it can be.
It's sad how business and money tend to rip the soul out of everything, even attempting to save the environment by implementing sustainable standards. It is the same phenomenon that we have witnessed during the mid 90's (still happening today) with regards to the big boom in corporate social responsibility. Companies know that they will be seen in a better light when they give back and thus focus more on communicating the fact that they are philanthropic than the charitable activity itself. Luckily we can not generalize as there are hopefully still corporations and developers who believe in leaving a lasting impact by minimizing their carbon footprint.
Most of this article is badly researched and simply not true. For starters since 2009 LEED has awarded up to 5 points for Innovation in design. Also although the LEED system uses points these are intrinsically weighted through a matrix system where credits are analyzed against a list of impacts which is then quantified and used to assign points. The result is a weighted average that combines building imapcts and the relative value of the impact categories.
LEED certification significantly adds to the initial costs of building a structure and often contributes to annual higher maintenance costs to keep complex systems operational. Any financial savings obtained through reduced energy usages/costs are lost. There have been few LEED certified buildings that enough save money so that they can break even on construction costs and operational costs compared to standard technology. There are some individual technologies LEED has encouraged companies to develope that can be cost effective to implement for a large number of companies if properly promoted, but to meet LEED standards a company must have money to burn. In this economy most do not have the money. The question then becomes, should LEED start promoting best in class technologies that have an ROI? Would deploying a single affordable, yet high impact, technology to 10,000 companies be better for the environment than the results of persuading 10 companies to build 10 LEED certified buildings?
A perfect example of micro analyzing. If people are going to "save the environment by implementing sustainable standards" That's a good thing. What difference does it make why they're doing it as long as it doesn't have any negative effects? Companies know that they will be seen in a better light when they give back and thus focus more on communicating the fact that they are philanthropic than the charitable activity itself." And that matters why?? Personally I could care less what their motivations are. If you make a conscious decision to build more sustainable buildings, for whatever reason, more power to you.