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Is LEED lip stick on a pig?

 

I like the concept of LEED however the acronym is probably in need of adjustment that would be more fitting in my mind. Leaders in Ecological Approach and Design comes to mind.

While the general concept has merit the implementation has morphed into something that really lacks Energy Efficiency. It is more of a badge to be worn saying I won enough points to win this game.

I was watching TV with my wife last night and she loves HGTV. This particular show was called Million Dollar Kitchens. They travelled the world finding opulent kitchens and baths and featured them on the program.

The show travelled to NYC where a five story home was featured. It had five floors an elevator, a more than 20 foot waterfall over 60 lighting fixtures for two people. It also has LEED certification.

How is this possible?  Clearly a home such as this can only be described as an energy hog. I have no problem with folks spending their own money however they see fit. Whether this be on private jets, elevators, fur sinks, excessive energy costs and even LEED certification. However as one that has a general working knowledge of Energy Efficiency I am appalled it has come to this.

Once again I like LEED, The architect delivered the customer a cutting edge building design to their liking.  I am sure they had proper site selection (point). I am sure they used local products (point). I am sure they used low VOC materials (point). I am sure the project used cutting edge recycled material (point). The light fixtures were LED (point) I am sure the space had oodles of natural light (point and game) However what does any of this have to do with Energy Efficiency?

The LEED project’s I have been privileged to walk are wonderfully designed. There is an ecological approach. The buildings feel welcome and inviting. I would absolutely love to work in such a building,these are all good things.

But when I see a five story building that houses two people has a more than twenty foot waterfall ( hey I am not even going to the building science training that is screaming at  water rushing down a wall into an open pool in a closed environment) an Elevator and it is called  a Leader in Energy and Environmental  Design, well I lost it.

“Daddy” my daughter complained “don’t be one of those annoying people that can’t stop talking when someone is watching TV, you can leave the room.” My wife looked at me in total agreement with my daughter, having been on the other side of that look more than once and I stopped. I know better.

I also know that no matter how you spin it that building was not Energy Efficient. It was however beautiful, original, inviting, memorable and well designed.  From an Energy Efficiency view however it was simply lipstick on a pig.

 

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LEED = Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, but I think the points(!) you make survive the correction.

I think Glen knows what LEED stands for, and was suggesting it should be changed to remove the word "energy".

You're bolder than I am, unless you know Glen.

Less embodied energy in the building process and outcome might justify that word's presence in the full name, but as we three seem to agree, energy efficiency (throughout the life) of the building matters a great deal, and probably more.

Thanks for pointing it out it was not deliberate more of a Freudian slip that I glanced over while editing. It has been corrected.It does not detract from my message however. Energy Efficiency is a key element of LEED, Energy is the first E in the acronym and seem to imply using it wisely. I do not know much about the building other than my short viewing and subsequent brief meltdown.  I would question as to whether a waterfall indoors is a water conservation issue and potential environmental health hazard. Certainly the moisture could be mitigated through ventilation and humidity control adding the energy footprint. Failure of these systems in either function or operation could result in durability issues.

What I keep looking at in your reference to the large LEED certified house in NY is the ratio of building size to normalized occupancy rate. Five stories, two people.

One can go on at length about hitting the LEED biggies like embodied energy reduction, site selection, etc. etc. And one can state, as you did, that a person that has that kind of money should have the right to build a house that size for just two people. Perhaps.

Problem is, ALL of us on this planet share the same sources for energy. If our energy base remains firmly finite, a five story house with a waterfall in it for just two people strikes me as obscene, LEED cert be damned. I can't be convinced a five story house for two people has an equivalent or less of an energy consumption footprint than my 1,800 square foot single story house for two people. Sheer physics do not favor that comparision being possible.

What would impress me is if a five story house for two people was a net zero house. Go crazy with all the LEED high points on earth friendly construction practices and material choices, recycling, etc., but how about encouraging a structure that isn't a 30+ year leech on the grid?

You aint seen nothen-one of the first LEED cert.projects was a 60 car 'PERSONAL GARAGE!'for some Saudi king.A freakin garage!But wait,Obama just ordered the DOD and ASHRAE to do feasability study on the LEED projects they produced.When I read that I heard the screech of thousand Herman Miller office chair seat covers get stretched by butt cheeks.

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