New Urbanist Andrés Duany Says LEED is Crashing Over Cost

DPZ street design image

Griffin Park, Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company

As noted in posts on a net-zero bank branch last week, context matters. As studies have shown, when it comes to energy consumption, where you live is more important than what you live in. Andrés Duany made the point at the Smart Growth Conference in Charlotte recently, suggesting that low-tech good design is as important as high tech "optimization." He thinks that green certification may be too much of a good thing.

tornagrain dpz rendering image

Tornagrain, Scotland. Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company

Andre Shashaty writes in the Partnership for Sustainable Communities:

Duany said there needs to be a "LEED Brown" rating, in addition to the current silver, gold and platinum ratings. He suggested this could give builders credit for using traditional but low cost measures that are not easy to quantify or certify. He described these steps as "the original green," and "what we did when we didn't have money."

He said that high-density development in urban locations which entail less reliance on private cars should get a free pass on energy efficiency or energy generation standards. "Don't make apartment dwellers install solar power," he said. "They are doing their part just by living densely and driving less."

This is a perspective that I have discussed before, with the suggestions that building codes be made absolute rather than relative- why apply the same standards across the board? Why not recognize the total energy picture instead of just looking at the building on its own? That's why I say Forget Hybrids And Solar Panels, We Need Active, Exciting and Vibrant Cities

Duany is perhaps a bit harsh on LEED, complaining about both the cost of certification and of optimization:

He criticized green building standards that don't give points for low cost approaches like passive solar heating but encourage developers to buy expensive windows to make sure that "not an atom of air escapes."

"Environmentalism got addicted to optimization and we can't afford it," Duany said. "It's absurd what you have to go through to get LEED certified. It will crash on it's own. It already is.....It costs more to get a project certified under the LEED for neighborhoods (LEED-ND) program than it does for me to design it."

More in Partnership for Sustainable Communities
More on Green Building in Context
TD Bank Builds Net-Zero Energy Branch; What's Wrong With This Picture?
When It Comes To Net zero Banks in the Burbs, The Internet Is Wrong About My Being Wrong. I Think.

More on Original Green:
The Original Green By Steve Mouzon: A Must-Read If You Care About Sustainable Design
Let's Return to the Original Green: Moving From a Consuming Economy to a Conserving Economy

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