Why LEED Mandates Do Not Add Up

On Wednesday, we discussed the LEED 25 percent rule: the LEED rating system was only intended to apply to the top 25 percent of buildings.

It is important to remember this premise when considering what is happening in the green building industry today. Many cities are mandating LEED certification for public and private buildings. For example, in Washington D.C., all new construction of private buildings greater than 50,000 square feet will have to be LEED certified after January 1, 2012.

As cities, states and federal agencies are mandating LEED certification, you simultaneously have the USGBC "raising the bar" for green buildings by bi-annually updating the LEED rating system to include even more stringent requirements for certification. The USGBC's goal is not for every building in the country to be LEED certified. Instead, the USGBC wants "to bring in even greener and greener buildings."

You see the problem there. I know you do. But I will say it anyways.

Mandates require 100 percent compliance.

The USGBC is designing a system that only the leading 25 percent of buildings can comply with, at least in terms of certification.

Those two numbers do not add up.

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Green Building Law Update - May 27, 2009 11:38 AM
I have been spending a lot of time recently thinking about two posts I made regarding the LEED 25 percent premise and why this will be problematic for green building mandates. Why did I reconsider these posts? Rob Watson told...
Green Building Law Update - May 29, 2009 9:03 AM
In addition to clarifying the LEED 25% guideline, Rob Watson also had some interesting points regarding regulations that required LEED certification.* First, Watson made a great point about governments requiring municipal projects to achieve LEED certi...
Comments (5) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Christopher G. Hill - May 15, 2009 12:50 PM

The unfortunate part of this is that government entities routinely put this cart before the horse. The mandates cannot be met because the rules keep changing.

Nils Davis - May 15, 2009 2:00 PM

Combine this with the fact that LEED doesn't focus on energy efficiency (although that's improving) and the goals of many of these municipalities - which is reducing their carbon footprint - are not being met.

Mark Rabkin - May 15, 2009 9:33 PM

As the leader of the advocacy efforts for the Northeast Ohio Chapter of the USGBC, I have been asked to introduce or advance the conversation of responsible green building practices within public policy. Our team's collective efforts will be focused on finding ways to encourage responsible building practices and crafting effective incentives to stimulate more building in an ecologically conscious manner. It is my opinion that the LEED rating system is an effective guide to achieve a certain level of environmental responsibility, but it should not be the requirement for the reasons clearly explained above. Thoughts?

Mark B - May 19, 2009 11:38 AM

"The USGBC is designing a system that only the leading 25 percent of buildings can comply with, at least in terms of certification."

Do you know what level of LEED certification this stat specifically refers to? Is it that all LEED-certified buildings combined (Certified + Silver + Gold + Platinum) will total 25 percent of buildings?

Chris Cheatham - May 19, 2009 11:51 AM

Mark B - good question and I am not sure about the answer. I don't want to speak for the USGBC on this issue. I will let you know if I hear more.

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