The United States Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program has been taking a lot of fire in recent press. Henry Gifford, an energy efficiency expert, has decided to sue the USGBC stating that the LEED program is completely false advertising and that LEED buildings actually use more energy than conventional buildings. According to Gifford the LEED program monopolizes through fraud, is unfair to competition, uses deceptive trade practices, false advertising, wire fraud and even results in unjust enrichment; and these are just a portion of his claims. He states that the latest data shows that LEED rated buildings use 29% more energy than comparable buildings. Lawsuits abound in the United States, the question then becomes is the LEED program truly false advertising?
Ultimately the courts will decide whether it is or not, but, taking a look at the LEED program it is not hard to see that its main purpose and goal is not energy efficiency. The name itself describes the purpose of the program, it is focusing on design. The LEED program is currently on its third revision. It is changing to meet the growing concerns and needs of its users. The majority of the program focuses on recycled building materials, rain water capturing and reuse, and environmentally friendly practices such as native landscaping to the local ecosystem. Energy is not the only word in the title, environmental is also attached, and is truly the largest focus of the LEED program.
The LEED program is focused on constructing buildings that have the potential to use less energy. Once the building has been commissioned and becomes occupied it may change and fluctuate and indeed may use more energy than comparable buildings. The latest LEED version 3 has tried to address this by requiring five years worth of monitoring to make sure the building maintains these standards. Will a LEED building use less energy than a conventional building simply because it is constructed with the potential to do so? Of course it won’t, it can’t, because every building is constantly changing and constantly degrading. If you do not maintain your LEED buildings they will not maintain efficiency simply because there is a certification.
The question becomes, how can you tap into your LEED buildings potential? How can you take advantage of its built in ability to use less energy. The answer is Continuous Energy Management and Optimization (CEMO). The CEMO system is backed by an ISO 9001 certified team of facilities engineers. Real-time building performance information is delivered to the buildings facility personnel through comprehensive web-based dashboards. The same information is also monitored 24/7 by qualified individuals that will make sure that your LEED building is being optimized to its full potential.
LEED certification is not a “get out of jail free” pass. It does not mean that your building will automatically be super efficient for the rest of time. It does mean that your building has the ability to run efficiently. Designing a building to have the potential is extremely important, but, if that potential is not harnessed it is wasted and very easily will result in your building consuming more energy than a traditional structure. The CEMO system will make sure that your building reaches the potential that it was designed to achieve.