LEED: Fact vs Fiction
There are many myths circulating about LEED. Mainly propagated by chemical, paper, and energy conglomerates. Some by foes of sustainability and performance green building. To correct only some of these far-fetched myths, please see the below Top 10 myths debunked.
1) MYTH: LEED is a mandatory government regulation.
FACT: LEED is a creation of the private sector and is strictly voluntary.
LEED is not and will never become a tool for mandatory regulation. Private sector leaders established LEED in 2000 and it quickly became the most widely used high-performance building rating system in the U.S. Iconic companies such as Coca-Cola, Marriot, Target and Home Depot, among others, use on LEED certification to reduce operating and energy costs and increase their bottom line. Forty-eight companies in the Fortune 100 use LEED certification.
2) MYTH: LEED v4 will drive up costs for taxpayers.
FACT: LEED saves U.S. taxpayers tens of millions of dollars every year.
The federal government is the largest consumer of energy in the U.S. and as much as 30 percent of that energy is wasted. LEED significantly reduces that waste. A recent independent study found LEED-certified federal buildings reduced energy use by 25 percent compared to the national average. The White House’s budget office recently noted that investments in energy efficiency over the last four years are expected to save as much as $18 billion in lifecycle energy costs. The recently LEED-certified retrofit of the U.S. Treasury building is saving taxpayers $3.5 million each year.
3) MYTH: LEED v4 will destroy jobs.
FACT: LEED actually creates jobs because it has been a catalyst for the explosive growth of energy-efficient building, which supports or creates 7.9 million jobs across all 50 states and contributes $554 billion to the U.S. economy annually. The update to LEED will spur additional job creation from new building construction and energy efficient retrofits.
4) MYTH: LEED v4 bans chemicals, proven products and building materials.
FACT: LEED v4 will encourage the use of materials that provide information about their ingredients.
LEED utilizes private-market incentives to reward projects that use more transparent, well-documented building materials. There is no “red-list” of banned chemicals. Furthermore, the proposed credits are not requirements, they are completely voluntary. All LEED certification levels – including the highest – can be attained regardless of a project’s decision to pursue these optional measures. The core of the 100-point LEED formula always will be energy efficiency.
5) MYTH: LEED doesn’t improve efficiency and is simply “greenwashing” for corporate America.
FACT: The business case for LEED is unassailable.
LEED saves money and increases the bottom line for building owners. High-performing, LEED-certified buildings save money and deliver higher profit margins by reducing energy and operating costs. LEED-certified buildings also generate higher rental income, have a greater resale value, offer faster leasing and secure higher occupancy rates.
6) MYTH: Manufacturers are excluded from the LEED development process.
FACT: LEED’s development is open, transparent and inclusive of all points of view. LEED’s 100-point rating system is constructed in a consensus-based process among stakeholders and technical experts. Nearly 1,300 product manufacturers – including two dozen chemical companies and the American Chemistry Council – are members of the U.S. Green Building Council, which oversees LEED. Manufacturers are the third largest segment of USGBC membership. To suggest that they do not have a seat at the table is patently false.
7) MYTH: LEED v4 is unscientific and not consensus based.
FACT: LEED’s development process meets all of the required federal criteria including openness, a balance of interests, due process, an appeal process and consensus. More than 20,000 public comments have been received and each has been addressed individually and is available online. Expert technical committees of building professionals provide a consistent source of sound advice and subject matter expertise for this ongoing process.
8) MYTH: LEED discriminates against American hardwood and domestic forest products.
FACT: Wood (and any other product) resourced within 500 miles of a project receives credit towards LEED certification. Local materials and resources are a focal point of LEED and regional materials credits support local economies. This strategy is frequently adopted as 90 percent of LEED-certified commercial projects attain the local materials credit. LEED v4 does not proscribe or eliminate the use of any particular timber or forest product.
9) MYTH: LEED buildings are too expensive to build and are a bad investment for taxpayers.
FACT: LEED buildings routinely cost the same or less to construct than conventional buildings, yet save taxpayers significant amounts of money because of their high level of energy efficiency. When LEED began in 2000, a premium did exist for high performance construction. But it has disappeared as LEED has achieved widespread adoption. The cost of LEED certification for existing buildings is recouped within the first two years the building is operational as a result of lower energy and operating costs, benefits from higher rents and higher occupancy rates.
10) MYTH: Other building rating systems are better suited for federal buildings than LEED.
FACT: LEED meets federal government performance standards better than all other systems.
Since 2006, LEED has been the preferred building rating system for the federal government. LEED was extensively evaluated by General Services Administration. A recent national lab study found that LEED meets 96 percent of federal government performance requirements and concluded that LEED is the best system for retrofitting existing buildings and saving taxpayers’ money in operations and maintenance.
Originally Authored by the U.S Green Building Council, Amy Hedgepeth, USGBC Staff