Take A New Look At LEED

  May 13, 2016

By Greg Zimmerman

Environmental Building News scored a big scoop recently. On April 1st, they announced that USGBC is adding a new level of LEED certification below certified! (Disclaimer: this was an April Fool’s joke. Please do not take this seriously.) It’s called LEED Effort, and the only requirements are to register a building, and then to complete a building. Project teams who achieve this rigorous standard get a lunch at Dairy Queen with USGBC CEO Rick Fedrizzi, though at least one project manager was upset that Chucky Cheese wasn’t an option.

The satire here underscores the more serious issue of continued complaints about LEED being too difficult or expensive, or that LEED certified buildings still don’t perform as well as their traditional non-certified counterparts. The latter has been debunked by study after recent study, including this one from the New Buildings Institute, this analysis from USGBC showing LEED buildings are in the top 11th percentile of all buildings in terms of energy use, and even our own reporting about two government buildings that are each performing as intended.

But is LEED still more expensive and difficult? Of course, yes, there is a charge to be certified with LEED, but there is increasing evidence that on-balance, LEED buildings don’t cost more than traditional. USGBC nicely lays out the business case for green buildings, showing that even the costs for LEED administration should be considered an investment, like any other high-performance building element.

Regarding difficulty, specifically in reference to LEED for Building Operations and Maintenance, sure, there is some extra time required. But like many aspects of facilities management, time spent on the front end results in efficiency down the road, and LEED is no different. Standardizing high-performance FM principles and strategies puts in a system that can be repeated over and over again, resulting in efficiency and sustainability, not just today when the LEED certification plaque is affixed to the wall, but down the road as well.

This Quick Read was compiled by Greg Zimmerman, Executive Editor of Building Operating Management magazine, greg.zimmerman@tradepress.com.

Read more from him about whether there is still a LEED Premium.


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