Buildings account for 40% of America’s energy use. With increased awareness of climate change, one would think that green buildings would be getting renewed support. Instead, the main proponent of green buildings, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is coming under attack for their LEED certification.
The latest attack came from the head of the National Taxpayers Union who wrote an article for the US News & World Report attacking LEED as a waste of taxpayer money. This attack follows decades of resistance to LEED from leaders in the plastics and lumber industries. In four states, lobbying from these industry groups was so successful that they banned the use of LEED in new public buildings.
As the founder of a technology used to achieve LEED points, energy storage, I’ve seen firsthand the power that LEED can bring to building owners who want to reduce their environmental footprint and save on their energy bills. We’ve worked closely with businesses, city governments and college campuses to help them improve their LEED ratings.
Buildings are complicated entities but LEED has simplified the rating process. LEED is a comprehensive system of interrelated standards that cover all aspects of the development and construction of a building. LEED standards have been applied to more than 7,000 projects in the United States and 30 countries.
Best of all, as technology has evolved, LEED is evolving with it. Members of USGBC review the standards multiple times per year with open Public Review hearings allowing comments and testimony from the general public. LEED even offers 5 points for “innovation” to building owners who achieve significant gains in environmental performance by using a strategy not addressed in the LEED green building system.
Committing to making building LEED isn’t just for the die-hard environmentalists. We’ve found that building owners who use energy storage for LEED achieve a return on their investment after only five years. When combined with solar, energy storage for commercial buildings can boost investor returns on solar projects by 12-15%.
It is my hope that as a community we can rally behind the powerful LEED standards set by the USGBC. We will not be able to significantly reduce America’s energy use without addressing the way that we design and operate our buildings. LEED is the right standard to help us tackle this challenge.