When I can't get to sleep at night, I fire up a PDF of "LEED-NC Version 2.2. The rating system lists the intent, requirements, submittals, and technologies/strategies for each credit and includes the LEED-NC (U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Checklist. " Lets face it, LEED is boring. It is a prescriptive checklist of items that you put in your building and get points for. The more points, the better the rating. It is mind-numbing. It is design by spreadsheet, the victory of Excel over the pencil. Buildings that we would not have looked at twice get splashed everywhere, it is distorting our view of what is important about architecture and design.
That is why Inhabitat's new series on Green Building 101 is so remarkable and important.In the first post, they take the truly boring title "Location and Linkages" which LEED might describe as "locations that are safe for inhabitants and the surrounding community, both human and ecological, and should not contribute to the degradation or loss of our agricultural and natural resource lands. Avoid building on sites that are environmentally sensitive or precious resources" and turn it into a clear, comprehensible and poetic manual for understanding why some sites are better than others.
For example, they turn "Minimize dependency on personal automobiles and associated environmental impacts by encouraging development patterns that allow for walking, biking, or transit as alternative means of transportation to necessary services. into "Live close to where you work, live close to where you shop, live close to where you party, and live close to the public transportation that can get you everywhere else cheaply, easily, and without firing up that SUV. This one choice is hugely beneficial for curbing global warming and decreasing air pollution. Its better for your health too."
It is also the Internet and the Blog at its best. In any other era someone would be doing this as a book, we would wait three years for it to come out, by which time LEED might have changed completely or become irrelevant. Here, the ink is barely dry on the new residential standard (hey, it is still in beta!) and we are seeing it analyzed and explained. Every week, those designing houses and looking for houses will get a bite-sized understanding of what all those points actually stand for. It is important work presented in serial form, not your usual ephemeral blog quickie.