Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Journal #11: LEED rating problems

First of all, I'd like to note that since this class started, I now subscribe to the LEED Pro and Treehugger blogs. Both haven't given me much to think about yet in application to this class.

I thought after Tuesday's class that I'd write a little more about the problems we discussed in the LEED certification system. I wrote down a bunch of them as I thought about it, so I will just run through them quickly here:

  1. The point values are all equal, which allows designers to neglect some of the more challenging possible aspects of design for LEED certification.
  2. The current levels of certification have large ranges at the gold and platinum levels, and we can assuming that designers will probably only aim at the minimum for each of those levels as it could only cost more to achieve more.
  3. The certification system does not take into account design aspects that could be more crucial geographically. For example, in Arizona a design could get more points for water conservation and solar power use instead of alternative transportation.
  4. Mary mentioned that the county she lives in has started to make LEED certification for new buildings a requirement. I had never heard of this before and think that it could be a very valuable tool to have government support. This doesn't mean simply government LEED requirements as in Mary's example, but tax breaks and other incentives could be initiated.
  5. This past summer I worked at 5 different construction sites, most of them being commercial strip malls (walmart, lowes, etc..) and it was apparent that LEED was not on anyone's mind. The designs for these types of buildings are continual reused, and it could be incredibly beneficial for these types of companies to start requiring it in design.
Points 1-3 directly relate to the rating system, and 4-5 are just aspects that I think could greatly enhance the reach of the LEED system. I think that points 1 and 3 are the most important, and I would think that these should be the first changes in the system. When thinking about it, having an equal point spread seems very simplistic, and it's incredibly surprising that the U.S. Green Building Council hasn't done anything to change this yet. Hopefully we can see something like this implemented soon, and as LEED grows it could start to have smaller governing bodies in different regions who could control the local rating system.

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