The Four Sins of LEEDwashing: LEED Green Buildings That Perhaps Aren't Really Green

The Sin LEED Green Buildings that are models of Wretched Excess

Criticizing Frank McKinney's Aqua Liana House in Manalapan Beach, Florida is like shooting $29 million fish in a barrel, with its fifteen thousand feet of excess.

Speaking of fish, were they harvested sustainably? Yet the builder claims that

it is the first to be built and certified to the rigorous "green" standards (environmentally responsible) as defined and mandated by the U.S. Green Building Council, the Florida Green Building Council and Energy Star for Homes. Acqua Liana is the only known residence to receive "triple" certification.

No, it isn't green and demeans all three organizations.
Who Cares If It Is Green, Is It Ethical?

In the end, one has to consider what Leo Hickman wrote about ethical living:

Ethical means above all taking personal responsibility. This in turn means considering the "sustainability" of everything you do- making sure that your actions do not have a negative influence on you or more importantly the wider world. As more and more people around the world, rightly or wrongly, aspire to and obtain western lifestyles, the pressure on natural resources will become even more intense. Therefore, a major tenet of ethical living is to attempt, wherever possible, to reduce one's own demand for resources... Simply, it is a call to consume a fairer and more proportionate slice of the pie. "

I have noted before that LEED is an evolving system, and category weights change. Could the HSBC building be Gold with the 2009 community connectivity credits? Shari Shapiro writes at Green Building Law:

LEED 2009 has attempted to fix one of my major criticisms, that LEED does nothing to prevent “green sprawl”—green buildings built on unsustainable sites—first voiced here. Although there is still nothing to prevent a “green” big box store surrounded by acres of parking lot on the urban periphery from being LEED certified, the increases in points to the Sustainable Sites credits are an attempt to give more weight in the LEED system to green buildings built in mixed-use community settings linked by public transit.

Is Henry still right about monitoring of buildings when there are increased points for measurement and verification? Will buildings still be as ineffective at reducing energy use as Henry says? According to an engineer commenting at Green Building Law,

It will be almost impossible to get any level of certification without making meaningful attempts to reduce the building carbon footprint and water use.

So perhaps we won't see too many posts like this in the future.

See also: 9 "Green" Monsters: Can a 15,000 SF Mcmansion be Green?

The Four Sins of LEEDwashing: LEED Green Buildings That Perhaps Aren't Really Green
"Is LEED a Fraud?" is the provocative title of an article on the Fine Homebuilding website by Kevin Ireton. It appears that mechanical designer Henry Gifford thinks it is, and makes a few good points in his paper

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