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LEED Really Does Save Energy, Report Finds

LEEDOne of the biggest charges that critics have historically levied at LEED is that certification is no guarantee of energy efficiency. The US Green Building Council must be hoping that its latest research – along with recent changes to the standard – will help to bury that claim.

Impacts and Innovation (available to USGBC members only) finds that 450 LEED projects had an energy use intensity nearly 31 percent lower than the national median source EUI.

Looking at the years up to 2006, under an earlier version of the LEED standard, many buildings were not energy-efficient enough to meet Energy Star ratings (according to USGBC’s own research). The council has set about to change that. LEED V3, introduced in 2009, increased the emphasis on energy use and carbon emissions. Last November, USGBC launched LEED v4, which allocates about 20 percent of all points to optimizing energy performance over the ASHRAE 90.1-2010 standard. This move will do more to help curb carbon emissions than any LEED rating system in its 12-year history, according to the council.

LEED got another boost late last year when President Obama signed a law lifting limitations on using US Department of Defense funds to pursue LEED Gold and Platinum certifications. The DoD manages more 2.3 billion square feet and owns more LEED-certified buildings than any other entity.

But this decision follows closely on from a setback for the building standard, after the DoD decided to allow its facilities to use the Green Globes certification program as an alternative to LEED.

Takeaway: New research from the US Green Building Council provides evidence that LEED-certified facilities are substantially more energy efficient than other buildings.

Tamar Wilner is Senior Editor at Environmental Leader PRO.

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