So Much for LEED

East, East Coast
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
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Everybodys doing it: The garage at the Santa Monica Civic Center, the worlds first LEED certified parking structure.

Everybody's doing it: The garage at the Santa Monica Civic Center, the world's first LEED certified parking structure.

Yesterday, the Times ran a decent though not totally honest and rather obvious piece on how a number of LEED buildings don’t actually save much in the way of energy. The Federal Building in Youngstown, Ohio is taken to task for “rack[ing] up points for things like native landscaping rather than structural energy-saving features.” Well, our dear friend and fellow blogger Chad Smith takes the Gray Lady to task for its disingenuity. Yes, LEED is flexible, maybe sometimes too much so, but that’s precisely what makes it so good, Chad argues, or at least so successful. To wit:

4. One of the reasons LEED and green building is so hot right now is because LEED has been very popular. So like Wal-Mart bringing organic food to each of their stores everywhere, LEED has brought the idea of sustainability to the world of building in the United States. It’s a huge success, but one that is not fully realized.

[...]

6. The Times article implies that buildings can install a bunch of bamboo flooring and get a LEED rating. In fact, Renewable Materials is one of the hardest points to get in the LEED system. Basically it’s bamboo anything, cork flooring, and like wool carpets…and that’s it. As a percentage of construction, you’d need to cover every surface in bamboo to make it work. So no one is installing that much flooring in lieu of other sustainable strategies.

[...]

9. Some LEED buildings are undoubtedly kicking ass on the energy consumption measure. Let’s hear about those too?

Be sure to check out Chad’s original post for the other six reasons on why LEED’s so good. And just to prove we’re not on the take from the USGBC, here’s one of the first article‘s I ever wrote for the paper on the need for testing these systems once they’re installed. Not only does this verify their efficacy, but it also helps maintain their efficiency. It was true (and underutilized) three years ago, and it’s even more true today. Let’s just hope Chad’s right about five years from now. The more things change…

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