Monday, August 31, 2009

Need for Shakeup in LEED

NYT reports on problems with the supposedly energy efficiency program called LEED:

Builders covet LEED certification — it stands for Leadership in Energy and
Environmental Design — as a way to gain tax credits, attract tenants, charge
premium rents and project an image of environmental responsibility. But the gap
between design and construction, which LEED certifies, and how some buildings
actually perform led the program last week to announce that it would begin
collecting information about energy use from all the buildings it
Buildings would provide the information voluntarily, said
officials with the United
States Green Building Council
, the nonprofit organization that administers
the LEED program, and the data would be kept confidential. But starting this
year, the program also is requiring all newly constructed buildings to provide
energy and water bills for the first five years of operation as a condition for
certification. The label could be rescinded if the data is not produced, the
officials said.

The council’s own research suggests that a quarter of the new
buildings that have been certified do not save as much energy as their designs
predicted and that most do not track energy consumption once in use. And the
program has been under attack from architects, engineers and energy experts who
argue that because building performance is not tracked, the certification may be
falling short in reducing emissions tied to global

Some experts have contended that the seal should be withheld until a
building proves itself energy efficient, which is the cornerstone of what makes
a building green, and that energy-use data from every rated building should be
made public.

“The plaque should be installed with removable screws,” said Henry
Gifford, an energy consultant in New York City. “Once the plaque is glued on,
there’s no incentive to do better.”

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