Questions Arise Over LEED Certification’s Real World Benefits

With everything from ugly suburban mansions to grocery stores to even the Empire State Building going the way of LEED certification, resulting in now more than a billion square feet confirmed as green as it gets, there’s been very little high-profile talk about any negatives arising from the program. Sure, there was the report that showed it’s sometimes hard for companies to keep at the standards once all the eco-warm fuzzies have worn off, and Frank Gehry made some stirs when he belittled the program while visiting here in Chicago (before reversing himself and LEED’ing the Inland Steel Building), but those have seem largely like blips drowned out by all the rah rah rah! That might all be starting to change however, as described in this great piece by Fast Company‘s Alec Appelbaum, who explains the growing backlash against the supposed Earth-saving certification. He cites a number of examples wherein LEED-backed buildings actually consumed more energy (much more at times) than traditionally-constructed buildings, as well as sharing that builders are now speaking out, saying that governments that require LEED-certified building codes “are producing dud buildings and that taxpayers are footing the bill through subsidies.” What’s more, there’s already a class action suit against the US’ Green Building Council, “claiming that LEED defrauds consumers and befouls interstate commerce while acting as a monopoly.” In defense, the organization says it’s still working on ironing out all the problems along the way, explaining that growing pains are understandable. For further reading, Forbes also has this great recap on the anti-LEED movement.