LEED is the U.S.’s most recognized seal of approval for green buildings. But LEED certifies a building’s performance based on what goes into it, not on how it actually performs once it’s built. So how is measurement changing LEED?
If Scot Horst has his way, measurement will make LEED certification more like restaurant ratings: A building will have to prove it’s saving energy each year in order to retain its certification.
Horst is the senior VP for certification at the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). It’s the nonprofit that administers the LEED program. Measuring a building’s performance once it’s built is an “absolute priority” for Horst and the USGBC. Speaking to The New York Times, he said, “Ultimately, where we want to be is, once you’re performing at a certain level, you continue to be recertified.”
The emphasis on measuring a building’s energy performance follows the release of the LEED v3 standard earlier this year. It requires that all new projects report actual performance data. Until v3, LEED certification was based solely on models that predicted the building’s energy performance. How to bring those existing certified buildings into the measurement fold is a thornier question that will take time for the USGBC and its members to sort out.
Meantime, the USGBC is walking its talk. Its recently completed headquarters building in Washington, DC, uses Herman Miller’s Convia products. They measure, monitor, and track the building’s energy consumption in real-time. Another way others are measuring is with Energy Manager. It controls two of the four circuits of power in a cluster of Herman Miller workstations, turning anything plugged into them off when people leave.
Tools like these are essential if LEED is to address a problem its own study uncovered last year. Of 121 new buildings certified through 2006, 53 percent didn’t qualify for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star label.
By Randall Braaksma