As the green building trend continues to boom, the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Rating System is facing more criticism. Previously I discussed the concern that some experts had with the human health aspects of the LEED system and then followed up with the official USGBC response. Today, I came across a story on NPR about concerns with the energy efficiency of LEED certified buildings.
Prior to LEED v3, buildings did not have to provide building performance data, and some buildings that were LEED certified didn’t live up to the expectations that led to certification. The USGBC stepped in and addressed these concerns by requiring all projects that receive certification under LEED v3 provide actual energy performance data for continued certification. While many experts say this is a great step by the USGBC, not everyone agrees that it is enough to ensure that LEED certified buildings are indeed more energy-efficient than their non-certified counterparts.
One of these experts is Henry Gifford. "It's impossible to go out and buy a building with a guarantee for how much energy it won't use," he says. "And the LEED system, by basing everything on energy predictions, continues that. This is one of the reasons why it's so popular — because it's painless." Source: NPR
USGBC CEO Rick Fedrizzi answers Gifford’s claim by discussing not only the building’s design but also the operation as important factors in the overall energy efficiency of a building.
"What really needs to happen is the transformation of the owners and the operators of the buildings to ensure that the building is being operated properly," he says. "I like to say you can get the same gas mileage out of a Prius that you get from a Hummer if you drive it incorrectly."
When something gets as popular as the LEED Rating System, criticism will undoubtedly follow. However, the USGBC is listening to this criticism and working to continually improve the system as the green building industry matures.