NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Does LEED Certification Mean Anything?

January 22, 2014

Many government buildings are the least energy-efficient of comparable buildings nationwide and yet they receive Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certifications, says the Washington Examiner.

The EnergyStar scale ranks buildings by energy efficiency against other buildings of the same type on a scale of 1 to 100, with 100 being the best. The ranking is based on actual energy consumption, and a building must score a 75 or above in order to use the EnergyStar seal.

  • Washington, D.C.'s School Without Walls scores a paltry 16 on the EnergyStar scale (which means that there are only 16 percent of schools nationwide that perform worse in terms of energy efficiency).
  • However, that same school has a gold certification from the LEED program.

Looking at buildings owned by Washington, D.C., the Washington Examiner found that some of the worst-performing buildings in the country have received LEED's highest scores.

  • Even government buildings that scored a meager 3 out of 100 on the EnergyStar scale received LEED certification.
  • Moreover, it is generally the case that government buildings built according to LEED specifications (which had a median EnergyStar score of 28) do not perform much better than non-LEED buildings (which had a score of 26.5).

Washington, D.C., has almost 7 million square feet of LEED space. But the discrepancies between EnergyStar scores and LEED certifications raise questions as to whether a LEED-certified building actually means anything in terms of energy efficiency.

Source: Richard Pollock and Luke Rosiak, "Exography: Worst-of-the-Worst in Energy Efficiency Earn LEED's Highest -- and Meaningless -- Rating," Washington Examiner, January 14, 2014.


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