Impact Of LEED At A National Level
In this article I want to focus on the Impacts of LEED Policies on a national level. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, The buildings that are built with these guidelines use far less energy than traditional buildings do. In the previous article that I discussed concerning the LEED Policies in Houston, Texas I was focusing on the impact the policies had on the public. The LEED policy as a whole is seen as an admirable policy that serves the environment in a positive way. Even though these positives do exist there are many negatives as positives. LEED on a national level has changed the nation drastically. This is because people can see many companies and government agencies having buildings that are LEED approved more than ever before.
According to the USGBC, which stands for United States Green Building Council in 2013 there were 44,270 projects in the United States alone that were LEED approved. The number of projects following this trend is increasing, not only in the United States, but also throughout various parts of the world such as China and Mexico. China has about 1,156 projects that are LEED approved and Mexico has 322 projects now that are certified. This trend is definitely moving towards areas of the world where many years ago this idea was both unimaginable and unheard of.
There are many factors leading to the growth of LEED in the United States and other parts of the world. Some people and companies may decide to conform to LEED for the sole purpose of boosting their social status. There are also many other reasons why this increase has come about. For example in Columbia South Carolina the Green Building Incentive Program was established on the grounds of creating financial incentives. This program was established on March 30, 2010. They received their funding from The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Of 2009. Their main objective was to provide financial incentives to those who construct to the Green Building Program standards. In order to qualify the building cannot be a government project. Commercial projects had to be built under the LEED guidelines in order to receive certification. There were other reasons why people would want to conform to LEED standards. In South Carolina, according to the Green Building Incentive Program buildings that achieve LEED certifications are eligible for expedited plan review, expedited permitting and recognition by the city on the city’s website and various media outlet. This reason for applying to LEED standards gives any company much desired publicity and exposure.
There are several government agencies that have conformed to LEED standards. According to the USGBC, the Department of Veteran Affairs adopted a “Sustainable Design And Energy Reduction Policy” requires all new stand alone construction and major renovation projects to be designed and constructed to achieve LEED Silver Certification. The Department of Health and Human Services also got involved in this trend. The Department of Health and Human Services issued a “Sustainable Buildings Implementation Plan,” which requires all new construction or major renovation projects that are owned by HHS and built with 3 million dollars of federal funds to Earn LEED certification.
The growth of LEED in the U.S. has grown tremendously and so has its cost. LEED is a effective policy. Everything that LEED stands for is positive for the environment and its inhabitants but the number one problem that is seen with LEED is the certification process and the high cost involved. According to Green Home, the minimum cost for getting LEED is $2,900. When it comes to bigger projects the price increases drastically and in some cases depending on the type of project. The certification cost can also be as much as $1,000,000 and this is just for the certification, and does not include the cost of constructing the building. People are often regarded highly for having their project LEED certified, which is great. The main issue is that there are people who genuinely care for the environment and want to be a part of something helpful to it but can’t achieve this due to the high cost. According to Best Practice a fire station in Cary North Carolina was completed in 2010 and was designed to meet all of the LEED standards, but the fire station spent more than $100,000 on energy-saving features in the new construction. Overall, this cost the town $41,500 in registration, certification and other costs to have the fire station LEED certified. For big companies and investors this is a great investment because their buildings will attract wealthy tenants who support going green and helping the environment.
Conspicuous Conservation is one of the issues that I have with LEED standards. Conspicuous Conservation is a term that basically talks about people engaging in environmentally friendly activities in order to obtain a higher social status. In an article I read by Freakonomics it talked about people who bought the Toyota Prius hybrid, and how people will view that individual in high regard due to the purchase of the car. This means that that people who are seen driving the Prius can be seen as an individual who cares for the environment.The article goes on to say “You make new friends; you get new business opportunities. The article also says “In an especially “green” place like Boulder Colorado the effect could be worth as much as 7,000$. Conspicuous Conservation is a huge issue with society today as a whole.
One of the biggest issues with LEED is the fact that there are laws across the nation that are actually mandating that all new construction should be LEED certified and are even offering subsidies for certified buildings. These laws have been criticized by many critics because USGBC is a private corporation and has no business being involved in government regulations. Another issue with LEED policies is that the USGBC directly profits from these regulations. Also, the USBGC is not in any way trying to do anything to make their certifications affordable to those who genuinely care for the environment and are not just trying to boost their social status.
LEED is an effective policy because all across the United States more and more companies are trying to get LEED certified. What the USGBC stands for as a whole is a good idea but the issue is whether they are truly concerned about the salvation of the environment or putting more green in their pockets. LEED has impacted the nation in a positive light and a not so positive light. I feel that the USGBC should not be involved in government regulations what so ever. The amount of money spent alone on certifications could be used elsewhere to benefit society and the country as a whole. The question that comes to my mind with this issue is what were the law maker’s intentions by mandating these regulations and involving USGBC. I just hope that one day these certifications can come at a lower price for people who truly care for the environment and want to be involved in protecting it.
SITES: LEED ® Public Policies (n.d.): n. pag. Web.
“What Are the Benefits of LEED Certification? Some Say Benefits Don’t Justify High Costs | Best Practices Construction Law.” Best Practices Construction Law. N.p., 19 May 2010. Web. 20 Apr. 2015.
““Conspicuous Conservation” and the Prius Effect.” Freakonomics RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2015.