The new Bank of America building near me has all kinds of plaques inside about how it is LEED certified. How? Well, I don't know the whole plan, but out front there are four reserved parking spaces for electric vehicles. There are not any charging stations mind you -- those might cost money -- just parking spots for electric vehicles, right next to the handicapped spots. LEED is a points based system and you can score a lot of points doing mindless, useless, zero-value stuff like this.
Washington, D.C. may have the highest number of certified green buildings in the country, but research by Environmental Policy Alliance suggests it might not be doing much good.
The free-market group analyzed the first round of energy usage data released by city officials Friday and found that large, privately-owned buildings that received the green energy certification Leadership in Energy Design (LEED) actually use more energy than buildings that didn’t receive this green stamp of approval.
LEED is the brainchild of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), a private environmental group.
Washington, D.C.’s Department of Environment made the capital the first city in the nation to mandate LEED certifications in the construction of public buildings. The standards are now being phased in.
The results are measured in EUI’s, a unit that relates a building’s energy consumption to its size; the higher the number, the more energy is expended by a smaller building.
Take the Green Building Council’s Washington headquarters. Replete with the group’s top green-energy accolade, the platinum LEED certification, the USGBC’s main base comes in at 236 EUI. The average EUI for uncertified buildings in the capital? Just 199.
Certified buildings’ average comes in at 205 EUI, still less efficient than that didn’t take home the ultimate green trophy.
“LEED certification is little more than a fancy plaque displayed by these ‘green’ buildings,” charged Anastasia Swearingen, LEED Exposed’s lead researcher on the project. “Previous analyses of energy use by LEED-certified buildings have consistently shown that LEED ratings have no bearing on actual energy efficiency.”
Hilariously, the problem cited with the certification program by government regulators is not that it is ineffective - after all, they can't admit that after requiring LEED certification in DC buildings. Their only problem is that it is a private program outside of government control. I am sure the folks who gave hundreds of millions to Solyndra would do much better managing the program.
The problem with LEED is the same problem that many ISO 9000 programs had -- it puts too much emphasis on process an inputs, and not enough on results.
Postscript: One wonders why if there is a perfectly good "output" metric like EUI why people even bother with input-based systems like LEED. If the government really wants to regulate here, the lightest touch would be to require architects and builders to estimate EUI of buildings for clients. Then the owners themselves can decide if they are comfortable with their potential energy bills or want so more design work.