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LEED: From Market Efficiency to Political Conservationism

Tuesday, November 15, 2016 0:17
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(Before It's News)

“LEED works for all buildings—from homes to corporate headquarters—at all phases of development. Projects pursuing LEED certification earn points across several areas that address sustainability issues. Based on the number of points achieved, a project then receives one of four LEED rating levels: Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum.”

LEED Website

“LEED advocates say the added cost of building to their standards is small. That may be true for the actual recommended energy measures; it is the certification process that is so costly.”

“Proponents of LEED say there are short paybacks and many benefits for the extra costs. But the environmental benefits are subjective…. Plus, many of the projected savings for LEED buildings are proving very difficult to verify.”

– Jim Clarkson (below)

It’s a shame to see money wasted in the name of energy conservation.

That’s what happens when sensible energy-saving measures are wrapped up in politically correct nonsense, gross exaggeration, and a needlessly expensive implementation and certification process. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design – LEED — is a program promoted by the U.S. Green Building Council that does just that.

It is mainly governments and non-profits that follow the whole LEED package. For-profit builders must hue to the creed but try to stay out of the central energy planning and judge alternatives via on-the-spot costs and benefits. LEED can be  considered a government intervention in the subjectively determined, best-practices building trade. As LEEDEXPOSED reminds us:

The USGBC is not a government agency, but several laws have been passed at the federal, state, and local levels, requiring new buildings be built to LEED specifications. Governments have also offered millions of dollars in tax breaks to private companies that build LEED-certified buildings.

And it is hardly taxpayer neutral. Continues LEEDEXPOSED:

Taxpayers have plenty of reasons to be concerned about the government endorsement of the USGBC standards. LEED certified buildings cost more than non-certified buildings to build due to additional certification costs and building materials, but studies show that LEED certified buildings are not necessarily more energy- or water- efficient than regular buildings. The additional cost of LEED certification despite any actual added benefits has led to increased criticism of LEED from a variety of media outlets, scientists, legislators, and environmental activists.

Also be warned: Management improvement programs periodically sweep through corporate America making that sector susceptible to sound-good programs like Quality Circles, Six Sigma, and Lean Manufacturing, now overlaid with LEED. Once a few big names get on board with the latest program, it is followed lemming-like by other enterprises until the next management fad replaces it.

Hopefully, the fashionable but wasteful LEED program will soon run its course before it gives cost-effective energy efficiency a bad reputation. If the public begins to see efficiency measures bundled with outrageous boondoggles, then the good is tarred along with the bad.

It is not just the totalitarian environmentalists that are now pushing to make the LEED standards mandatory, but a sizable segment of the architectural and design engineering community are enthusiastic promoters. Rent-seeking? The certification and on-going compliance for LEED requires an enormous amount of design time and special expertise. There is a growing vocal minority in the design business that is making stinging criticisms of the LEED program. Many budget-pressed enterprises are implementing some LEED recommendations without seeking the full expensive certification.

LEED advocates say the added cost of building to their standards is small. That may be true for the actual recommended energy measures; it is the certification process that is so costly. Proponents of LEED say there are short paybacks and many benefits for the extra costs. But the environmental benefits are subjective. Claims that workers are happier in a new LEED building may be true, but the same could be said for any new building. Plus, many of the projected savings for LEED buildings are proving very difficult to verify.

This is not to say LEED standards do not save at least some energy. Many efficiency improvements are hard to measure. The real issue is the huge waste of money that is spent on things that do not save energy. LEED’s grab bag mix of silly environmental measures and worthwhile energy suggestions has competition with other standard-making groups.

The greatest benefits from energy standards will be achieved when competitive groups innovate to meet consumer demands. New technologies and building techniques will develop and gain acceptance. LEED with its one-size-fits-all standard, questionable benefits and high costs is resistant to change and relying increasingly on mandates for new customers. LEED may not hold up in competition with voluntary energy efficiency programs.

The post LEED: From Market Efficiency to Political Conservationism appeared first on Master Resource.

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