Tag Archives: LEED certified

LEED-Certified Buildings Are Often Less Energy-Efficient Than Uncertified Ones

The term “going green” is gaining favor with a growing number of companies. Look no further than “green” certification plaques displayed outside buildings, or the litany of products on store shelves labeled organic. For those concerned with keeping up appearances, going green has never been easier. But for business owners focused on creating value for customers, it’s never been more wasteful.

So-called “green” buildings provide a useful example. A host of organizations are in the business of rating buildings based on environmental standards, but the mere existence of a rating system doesn’t make these organizations credible.

One such rating system is LEED, or the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards. LEED is managed by the U.S. Green Building Council, a privately run non-profit, and promoted by Uncle Sam. However, despite its name, LEED doesn’t actually require buildings to prove that they’re ahead of the curve on energy and water efficiency.

Applicants can acquire LEED status merely by offering computer models that project the building will meet a certain threshold. Moreover, they can do this even before the building is occupied. After that, buildings don’t have to demonstrate continued efficiency. It’s like telling your parents you’ll take care of the house while they’re away and then throwing a huge party, except in this case your parents never return to see the damage.

The LEED rating system is also gimmicky. Installing a bike rack gets you a point, while adding only the minimum number of parking spaces scores you two. This allows buildings to take the easiest and cheapest path to green glory without actually doing much for the environment. LEED developer Rob Watson has even admitted to “[throwing] a few gimmes in there.” In turn, some environmentalists have rightly criticized LEED as mere “greenwashing.”

Even though building developers can easily game the system, LEED certification can still add significant costs to a new building. These costs are often borne by taxpayers. The General Services Administration estimates that soft costs alone, such as fees for LEED consultants, add about $150,000 to the price of a new federal building. That figure doesn’t even include added construction costs to achieve LEED status.

Unsurprisingly, research shows that LEED-certified buildings are often less energy-efficient than their uncertified counterparts. One study found that even in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Green Building Council’s own backyard, many of the LEED-certified buildings were the least energy-efficient of all comparable buildings.

By comparison, consider Energy Star, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) own green building rating system. Unlike LEED, buildings must submit actual utility bills before they can claim the Energy Star seal. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, therefore, that comparisons have shown no correlation between LEED certification and a high Energy Star score.

There’s nothing wrong with saving energy, but unfortunately “green” building ratings systems such as LEED offer little more than a plaque and a press release. What’s worse, these rating systems make buildings more expensive to build, and thus to occupy. And as more of LEED-certified buildings crop up across the country, businesses operating on thin margins will find it increasingly difficult to find affordable space.

Much of the same can be said of another “green” scheme, this one pushed by organic food activists: labeling of foods containing genetically engineered ingredients, or GMOs. In defiance of science, many environmental activists decry genetically engineered crops like corn and soy, promoting “GMO-free” foods as the “greener” option.

Far from being bad for the environment, GMOs are actually quite beneficial. Using modern biotechnology, GMOs allow farmers to grow more food on less land, helping both the environment as well as the economy. Forcing farmers to return to old agricultural practices would reduce food production and raise prices, making it harder for American families to put food on the table.

Indeed, some green activists are now trying to force states to label foods that contain GMOs, but studies show such efforts would increase food costs—adding up to $450 to a family’s annual grocery bill. An outright ban on GMOs would only inflict more pain on American households.

The most well-respected scientific and medical associations in the world find that GMOs are A-OK. This “who’s who” list of the scientific community includes the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, British Royal Society, World Health Organization, American Medical Association and American Association for the Advancement of Science. It seems the only groups opposed to GMOs are environmental activists pushing a political agenda.

A look beyond the rhetoric and into the science exposes many so-called “green” schemes as expensive scams. We all want to show Mother Nature some love, but don’t be fooled by corporate tricks that play on our green sympathies. Instead, ride a bike to work, plant a tree, or do some composting. It’s the difference between being green and simply spending more green.

By Anastasia Swearingen — Anastasia Swearingen is a senior research analyst at Berman and Company.

Source: Forbes

Why Smart Building Technology Is a ‘No-Brainer’

Why Smart Building Technology Is a ‘No-Brainer’ An Article by: environmentalleader.com

Pressure to manage costs, risks and energy consumption is pushing commercial building Smart Building Management owners and investors to explore how smart building technologies can help a company’s triple bottom line — people, planet, profits — according to Jones Lang LaSalle’s latest report.

The Changing Face of Smart Buildings: The Op-Ex Advantage, says five key trends are making smart buildings a “no-brainer” for commercial property owners and investors. Smart building technology boosts operational efficiency, helps buildings save water and energy, and reduces their carbon footprints, says Dan Probst, chairman of energy and sustainability services at Jones Lang LaSalle. These advantages give owners and investors a competitive edge.

The report, which details the landscape for smart building technology, identifies five major trends:

  1. Rapid return on investment (ROI). Smart building technology investments typically pay for themselves within one or two years by delivering energy savings and other operational efficiencies. Also driving the fast payback is the low cost of automated building technology, which has fallen as adaptation has increased. For example, intelligent lighting components that cost $120 four years ago today sell for $50. Procter & Gamble’s building management pilot program,  for example, generated a positive return on investment in just three months.
  2. Operating-expense (op-ex) advantage. Relative to other energy-related building upgrades, smart building technology requires little upfront capital expenditure (cap-ex), while delivering significantly reduced operational expenditures (op-ex). Using automated systems, smart buildings generally cost less to operate than buildings operating solely on legacy systems, therefore offering a long-term op-ex advantage. By combining smart building systems and data analytics with facilities management, a smart building management system can detect and resolve building issues before equipment failures and capital expenditures ensue. Additionally, operational and energy savings begin shortly after the smart building management system is implemented.
  3. Marketing mileage. As reported in JLL’s October 2012 Global Sustainability Perspective, numerous studies and surveys have demonstrated that tenants and their advisors increasingly expect smart building features such as zoned HVAC, sophisticated equipment maintenance alert systems, advanced security systems and green buildings. Like a new lobby or elevator bank, an improvement in sustainability makes an office building more desirable to tenants. These benefits can justify collecting higher rent, and can increase competitive advantage and occupancy rates. And when the building is sold, sustainable investments can be recouped in an increased sales price. A 2011 study by Eichholtz, Kok and Quigley indicated the premium for LEED certified or Energy Star labeled buildings is about 13 percent.
  4. Energy savings. Smart building technology can generate energy savings of 8 to 15 percent annually almost immediately after deployment, with the potential for incremental improvements over time. JLL cites a 2012 report that estimates that $289 billion in building efficiency investment would produce savings in excess of $1 trillion in the US alone, with every dollar invested in energy efficiency producing three dollars of operational savings.
  5. Improved corporate social responsibility profile. Redirecting energy spend to building efficiency has allowed some corporate decision-makers to gain the reputational advantages of doing the right thing by the environment while also gaining significant performance and productivity improvements. Another benefit is a smart building system’s ability to measure and report greenhouse gas emissions. Some owners feed building emissions data to multiple benchmarking organizations, such as Greenprint and GRESB, as well as to Ceres and similar third-party reporting organizations, and smart systems can roll up the information from across a portfolio.

Property owners may understand the benefits of smart buildings, but often have misconceptions that they are a lot more expensive, are the same as green buildings, or that only new buildings can become smart and industrial facilities cannot be made smart buildings. In an Energy Manager Today article,Jones Lang LaSalle’s smart building experts debunk these myths in an effort to explain that their benefits far outweigh their costs and smart buildings are applicable across all categories of buildings.