So the lawsuits have begun. Interestingly , it is not a specific case based performance issue, rather a class action lawsuit. Filed on Oct 8 by Henry Gifford, owner of Gifford Fuel Saving, the allegations include an argument that USGBC is fraudulently misleading consumers and fraudulently misrepresenting energy performance of buildings certified under its LEED rating systems, and that LEED is harming the environment by leading consumers away from using proven energy-saving strategies.
Can’t say that we didn’t all see this coming at some point. USGBC has hit the tipping point in public perception, where professionals or trades are now excluded from a bidding process if they don’t have a LEED accreditation and experience. And, to further strengthen the bonds of this “club,” as of LEED v3 in 2009, any candidate wishing to take the LEED AP exam must have previous experience with a LEED Registered Project.
Is this the whine of sour grapes? Nope, I picked up my AP back in 2004. Which I could have leveraged to be a seasoned “old-timer” by now. But I just couldn’t fully support the system. Why? Because I also had one strong foot in the camp of the building scientists/energy efficiency crowd. And I have all too often felt the tug between the “LEEDers” and the “EEBS’ers,” running somewhat parallel but rarely intersecting. I don’t believe USGBC is intentionally misleading, nor intentionally misrepresenting, but I do think the USGBC does not weight the measures in a way which is representative of their life-cycle values.
I finally had to make my own decision which path would most “save the earth, “ and I put my vote to the energy efficiency. Eliminating waste in the use of natural resources is #1. This means reducing or eliminating the use of natural resources for building operations (ie Net Zero). That also goes for water. It means choosing resources for construction that have the longest possible service life, which is the dominant variable in a life cycle analysis (embodied energy divided by years of service).
Simple yet the most challenging of goals. I will support any program with this primary agenda, transparency, minimal program costs and the fewest layers of complexity. In other words – programs whose goals are to change the masses – not provide an elite class of a few. If there are to be a chosen few – have these be models of affordable net-zero, or net-positive generators of resources.
So what about the rest of the criteria of sustainability? All valid. But the paradigm shift which needs to occur to design, build and perform at levels of net zero is the toughest to achieve, and a reliable platform which catalyses environmental responsibilities in other ways. All this will and does follow. And I believe that public does not have a clear differentiation between energy efficiency and sustainability. So while I don’t support law suits as means to an end, I do support a hard-hitting, focused approach to do the tough work of energy efficiency.
If you can only afford to hire one professional in this area - hire an energy modeler who will test and commission the work. Put your money in energy/ water efficiency and durability.
LEAD the country in real solutions for our very real global energy problems.