New York Times Behind the Times on LEED


You can get your LEED plaque in any number of different materials, but whatever kind you put up, it won't guarantee that the New York Times will understand what it means. They do an "exposé" about LEED, noting that quite a few LEED buildings are not energy efficient enough to qualify for Energy Star certification.

But the Times distorts it two ways.

1. LEED is evolving. Even the Times admits that the Federal Building in Youngstown, that it criticizes for not scoring high enough to get Energy Star certification, would not qualify for LEED under today's standards. So why lead off your story with a building that was designed a decade ago and completed in 2002? That is like a generation ago in green design. Is that the best you can do?


A building is not a walk-in cooler.
2. Energy Star Certification has nothing to do with Green Building.

Saving energy is important, and our buildings use up 42% of it, so of course, building an energy efficient building is important. But one could achieve Energy Star by insulating with asbestos and baby seal fur, providing almost no fresh air and sealed vinyl windows. They measure one thing only(see comments) Their over-arching concern: energy consumption. Any hack architect and engineer can design a building that is energy-efficient; just forget about everything else that is important. We all did that in the seventies and got toxic buildings.

LEED, to its credit, looks at everything, including air quality, location, local materials and more.


HSBC headquarters

I have had a bit of sport over the years criticizing LEED and what I thought were laughably inappropriate designations. (See The Four Sins of LEEDwashing: LEED Green Buildings That Perhaps Aren't Really Green). But it is the best we've got, and is under attack by industry-founded and funded alternates, who will no doubt add this article to their ammunition.

Everybody in the business knows about this "problem" with LEED, and steps have been taken to fix it. The Times stretches the point to look at old buildings and old LEED standards, and use them to criticize LEED today.

More in the New York Times
UPDATE: Chad Smith, a LEED Accredited Professional, does a good job on this story over at Tropolism. His final two points:

8. I said it in February 2009: in 5 years we are going to look at LEED Silver as a ridiculously low standard.
9. Some LEED buildings are undoubtedly kicking ass on the energy consumption measure. Let's hear about those too?

More on LEED:
Greenwash Watch: HSBC Headquarters
Dumb and Dumber: NAIOP Calls HSBC HQ Green Project of the Year ...
Greenwash Watch: Builders Write Their Own Green Building Standard ...