[Editor's note: Subsequent to the posting of the entry below, the author of the "LEED Program is Another Sham" letter responded directly to OGBL. The body of his response, and his original letter to Columbus CEO magazine, are reproduced in a subsequent post on this blog.]
In a letter to the editor published in the August 2010 Columbus CEO magazine titled “LEED Program is Another Sham,” LEED denier Bruce Wingfield compares LEED to “Climate Gate.” So, by Mr. Wingfield’s logic, the U.S. Green Building Council, whose Central Ohio Chapter includes many of the most well-respected local contractors, engineers, architects, facility managers, and other building professionals (including thousands of your friends and neighbors) working make America’s built environment more healthy, prosperous and sustainable, is like a clique of academics in England who manipulated climate data. I understand what you’re saying, Mr. Wingfield. I just don’t see the connection.
Let’s follow your premise that, in The Green Tragedy: LEED’s Lost Decade, former builder Pat Murphy argues that the LEED rating system is lacking relative to energy conservation. You failed to mention that Murphy actually argues that LEED could bolster its credibility by increasing its current energy savings of 25-30% (which is still better than nothing … I’d like a 25% raise) to align with the “dramatic” 75% energy savings achieved by the German “Passive House” (aka Passivhaus) standard. Murphy thinks that we could do better than LEED. I couldn’t agree more, and apparently the USGBC felt likewise, as the latest version of LEED (“v3,” launched April 27, 2009) prioritizes energy efficiency.
But let’s consider the credibility of your proposition that LEED costs “considerably more” than traditional building. Passivhaus, the model to which you aspire, reports an average cost premium of 14%. LEED, according to preliminary reviews of data being compiled by the Ohio Schools Facilities Commission from nearly 200 LEED-registered projects, has an average cost premium of about zero. That’s right. Hire qualified professionals and the mythical “LEED premium” vanishes like ice caps.
You say that you’re just looking out for the best interests of a “gullible” public, which presumably would include the folks who work at Hines Interests, the property management company who runs the Huntington Center in downtown Columbus as well as approximately 120 million square feet under management in 100 cities and 17 countries worldwide. Hines isn’t pursuing LEED certification for the Huntington Center because they’re a bunch of gullible tree huggers, but rather because they project just a 3-year ROI for their entire cost of LEED administration. Sophisticated, pragmatic, results-oriented businesses like Hines can look out pretty well for their own interests, and they choose LEED.
Professionals from companies like Hines, Turner Construction, Shaw Industries, MetroCD Engineering, Greenovate, Smith/GreenHealth, Heapy Engineering, EMH&T, M+A Architects, Fitch, KLH Engineers, and hundreds of other individual and corporate members of the USGBC – Central Ohio Chapter want to help everybody learn how the built environment can contribute to stronger communities and a better way of life. I invite you, Mr. Wingfield, and any other LEED deniers out there to attend any of the Chapter’s monthly Lunch & Leaders meetings and update your data set.