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4 comments

Is LEED Misleading?

Posted February 24, 2011 3:23 PM by Steve Melito

Last October, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) was hit with a class-action lawsuit. The plaintiff, a mechanical systems consultant named Henry Gifford, alleged that the non-profit organization misled consumers by misrepresenting the energy performance of buildings certified under the LEED rating systems. These internationally recognized standards provide third-party verification that buildings have been designed and constructed to improve energy savings, water efficiency, and other environmental parameters.

Although Henry Gifford has since amended his federal lawsuit to drop the class-action component, the owner of Gifford Fuel Savings remains adamant that building designers are losing customers because of the USGBC's false and misleading claims. The basis of Gifford's complaint is his own analysis, published in 2008, that LEED buildings are 29% less efficient. A study from that same year by the New Buildings Institute (NBI) finds that LEED buildings are 25% to 30% more efficient than the national average.

Gifford's lawsuit demands that the USBC cease its deceptive practices and pay $100-million in compensation. But that's not the only money at stake. As co-plaintiff Andrew Ask explains, "it is becoming more common for institutional owners to be listing LEED credentials as a requirement to do work for them". Engineers who lack this requirement risk being "shut out of most projects".

Will the USGBC win or lose this lawsuit?

Source: Architectural Record

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#1

Re: Is LEED Misleading?

02/24/2011 4:44 PM

If USGBC is cooking the numbers, absolutely they should lose. If they are killing businesses that don't subscribe to them, yes, they should be punished. I think they should have to show not only that LEED certified buildings are far more efficient than non certified buildings, but that it is worth the extra cost across the board.

Man, I should have gone to law school!

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#2

Re: Is LEED Misleading?

02/24/2011 4:44 PM

No doubt LEED overlooks some worthwhile energy-saving strategies, and no doubt it includes some of dubious or no value; so there is no question that people are being misled.

"Will the USGBC win or lose this lawsuit?" Good grief, what a dopey question. You might as well flip coins, roll dice, or read animal entrails to figure that out. Even when the fat lady sings, the ruling is likely to be appealed.

While I have no idea what will happen, I hope the USGBC loses big-time.

--Tornado

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Guru

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#3

Re: Is LEED Misleading?

02/25/2011 11:27 PM

Any nonprofit organization if they mislead the professionals is not a healthy trend to move forward. I read a novel Sate of Fear by Michel. Though it was novel the author has inspired the reader by his story telling ability. I could not close it once I start read the book.

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Associate

Join Date: Jan 2011
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#4
In reply to #3

Re: Is LEED Misleading?

02/26/2011 8:55 PM

"State of Fear" was written by Michael Crichton. Crichton included an extensive bibliography at the back of the novel that may have been intended to raise the possibility that the premise of his story could be true. In the story, global warming was a cooked up fable by groups and government agencies with vested interests. I agree with MRSWAMY in that the history of quasi governmental agencies is checkered and bears scrutiny.

That said, I have no direct experience with LEEDS and have heard no anecdotal reports of LEEDS not measuring up. It is not widely required here and not yet widely adopted either, so it may be early for such reports to surface here.

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