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Promoting the LEED green building system.

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[Apr. 21st, 2007|10:09 am]
Promoting the LEED green building system.


At the moment I'm taking a class exploring a potential new USGBC standard, the Living Building Challenge. Conceived as a possible next step beyond LEED, the LBC is a set of prerequisites one must meet, very much pass/fail, all or nothing. No points are given and there is no degree of achievement. Either the building meets the challenge or it doesn't. The metrics are as yet vague or I'd give more info to you, but the basic idea is to create a stringent standard.

As much as I love that LEED has been and continues to be adopted by builders and clients, it can be gamed to one degree or another. For example, Museum Place in Portland has been LEED certified without any consideration of stormwater and very little done in the interest of energy efficiency beyond current code requirements. Most points came from the location of the building itself in the relatively dense urban setting and the fact that it was a pre-existing structure, things the developer was doing anyway. While I in no way want to diminish the fact that the developer did a good thing in building where they did, given that they were going to anyway how does this move us forward in any meaningful way? And should we accept this as a victory for LEED, or maybe a victory over LEED? As well, it's possible to build a LEED certified McMansion. Not easy, maybe, but the system is forgiving enough that some practices that are particularly questionable don't rule out a fairly high certification. Is a LEED Gold home built on virgin wetlands a good thing?

So my question is this: Given what you know of LEED, and of competing metrics, what would you change? And how might those changes alter the current enthusiasm for the systems adoption?

[User Picture]From: surpheon
2007-04-23 03:07 am (UTC)
I do not know of any competing (US) metrics; EnergyStar is quite a different beast and state programs, like California's CHPS and such, don't seem to have really caught on widely.

I would like for the final LEED rating to give some indication of in what categories the building earned its points. Rather than a single gold or platinum building rating, condense the LEED categories into just 3 or 4 (Materials&Resources and Indoor Enviromental Quality seem ripe to combine) and assign a silver, gold or platinum in each. The building score would be the sum average of the categories, and a platnium would require all categories be platinum. This would prevent a building with atrocious energy efficiency from skating into a platnium by buying the usual points and ignoring the energy efficiency. Which, as a ME, is of course the most important part ;)

As a side whinge, while I am eternally grateful that ASHRAE 90.1-2004 is FINALLY giving reasonable credit for low pressure drop systems and not penalizing those who invest in a small water cooled system over a package unit (the Turbocor based centrifugal units are quite exciting), I am disappointed that there are no exemplary performance points available for exceeding EAc1.
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