Evidence that LEED buildings use more energy than non-LEED buildings

Good morning Archinect friends.  Was wondering if anyone had any opinions about the following bombshell:

"It has been speculated about for years: Is LEED certification -- based on the U.S. Green Building Council's (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards -- anything more than a PR stamp of approval, even though USGBC contends that buildings with this "stamp" actually use less energy than their uncertified counterparts? Hard evidence now answers this question.

Research conducted by the Environmental Policy Alliance reveals that large privately-owned buildings in Washington, D.C. certified under the USGBC's LEED standards actually use more energy than uncertified buildings. In fact, despite having the highest number of buildings in the country certified under LEED, the research reveals that Washington, D.C. buildings are actually less energy efficient than the national average.

The research determined energy consumption by comparing the weather-normalized source energy use intensity (EUI -- a unit of measurement that represents the energy consumed by a building relative to its size), for both buildings certified by the USGBC as "green" and those that have not gone through the USGBC's expensive permitting process. The LEED-certified buildings' EUI was 205, compared to 199 for non-certified buildings. Ironically, the USGBC's headquarters, which has achieved the highest level of LEED certification, is off the charts in terms of energy consumption at 236..."

Read more: 

Mar 3, 14 1:00 pm
Non Sequitur

It's not a "bombshell", this has been out there for many years. Too many clients care more about the sex-appeal of the LEED stamp than it's enviro-whatever. LEED is fashion first and foremost and now too many people are convinced that they represent the foundation of sustainable design or efficient energy use. 2000 car surface parking lot? no problem, put some sun-shades on the north facade and claim you're environmentally friendly!

LEED for the win.

Mar 3, 14 1:05 pm

It has been out there as a theory for many years, but this is the first time that there has been empirical evidence to actually prove it.

So will LEED finally go away?

Mar 3, 14 1:24 pm

i would consider this a 'bombshell' of sorts, and have a hard time believing it isn't just massaged numbers to make LEED look bad.  of course i don't understand the various methods of energy modelling and measuring and such, so i can't verify that statement.  maybe if they published the gas and electric bills and divided by the usable square footage, that would make more sense.

having said that, i agree with their statement that LEED isn't much more than a plaque, a pain in the ass, and extra fees to pay.  my 'common sense' would tell me if you have a bunch of people full of shit making energy models for LEED on one side, and a bunch of people full of shit making energy models to discredit LEED on the other side, essentially the buildings should all more or less even out to a common standard.

Mar 3, 14 1:34 pm

I was just in an ancient pueblo structure built out of mud brick.  Held up well over the last 1000 years.  The interior temp was as nice as my house. Id be happy to live in it. It should be leed diamond.  Truth is that sustainability is more about subtraction than addition.  A few earth walls and some proper orientation and valla.  leed is structured to add stuff and does not really reward subtraction because subtraction is a sacrifice and we don't really all care that much. We would rather eat a half fat sandwich than a half a sandwich.  Leed is all about adding shit to reduce the fat content while still being able to satisfy our big appetite.   

Mar 3, 14 1:46 pm
won and done williams

This is clearly the next architectural outrage. LET'S GET ANGRY, PEOPLE!!!!

Mar 3, 14 4:23 pm
Hmm....lets see..a study by a group called "LEED exposed" reveals that LEED does not work...who benefits?
Mar 3, 14 5:07 pm

From the link: "How can this be? The reason LEED doesn't produce energy-efficient buildings is that buildings are currently certified based on their projected energy use -- not their actual energy use. To gain LEED certification, the USGBC requires buildings to submit their plans through a modeling software that projects how much energy the building will use. How the building actually performs once it's occupied doesn't matter."

The models aren't the same as reality? You don't say! ha ha. 

Mar 3, 14 7:32 pm

LEED is the architectural equivalent of carbon taxes. It's always been a scam and some clients are finally seeing that there really is no benefit to the stupid plaque...which is no longer included in the certification costs but is an extra line item.

Real conversation a few weeks back...

"So I see here that you've called out a bike rack near the main entrance."

"That's right"

"We're 30 miles from the nearest town and no one in their right mind is ever going to bike to work"

"I understand, but we still need the point to reach gold"

And that's why I hate LEED

Mar 3, 14 8:43 pm
Hmm....lets see..a study by a group called "LEED exposed" reveals that LEED does not work...who benefits?
Mar 3, 14 11:55 pm

What is the agenda behind Environmental Policy Alliance? Who are they? Who is compiling their data?

Mar 4, 14 9:19 am

I think everyone here has mentioned excellent points. I tend to fall on the side that's being talked about here...the downside of LEED.

I think really the only good change LEED has fostered in the heightened awareness of building sustainably...whether it's be LEED guidelines or not.

Mar 4, 14 9:32 am

30 miles is totally doable by bike - it would be a long commute (for someone in  decent shape without much traffic it would take probably around 90 minutes) - but people do ride that far for work.

Mar 4, 14 11:49 am
Non Sequitur

My office is just over 4km (2.5miles for those still stuck in the dark ages) from my house and I walk it (in dress shoes too!) every morning and night... even if it's negative 25C. Do I get a LEED stamp for that?

LEED brought the idea of sustainable planning into public discussion, they have just done a poor job at following through on their intentions. In order to score a gold LEED stamp we have a int green wall watered by ground water we would otherwise dump into the city's sewers... so, gold star right? Well, only if you ignore the dozen 400W light fixtures running 12hrs/day.

Mar 4, 14 11:58 am

The irony in this whole thing is that I bike to work(3-5 miles each way, depending what route I want to take), our building doesn't have a bike rack...

30 miles is a bit much and I can't see anyone in rural Kansas heading to work that way. 

Mar 4, 14 1:49 pm

right - short term (and long term) bike parking is something that should be required in zoning codes - not a LEED point.


I'm just saying that 30 mile bike ride on extremely low-traffic roads in rural kansas doesn't sound too bad...  it's pretty flat and most roads have wide shoulders - it can get windy, though...

Mar 4, 14 5:12 pm

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