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The Search for a New Green Building Standard

The need to slash emissions from buildings is increasingly urgent, and critics say LEED won't get us there.
June 8, 2018, 11am PDT | Elana Eden
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Vitaliy Krasovskiy

Green building is a $1 trillion global industry, and in it, LEED is king. Many states link tax incentives to achieving LEED certification, and new federal buildings are now required to attain the Gold standard. In 2017, Washington, D.C. became the world's first LEED Platinum city.

But as LEED and its administrator, the U.S. Green Building Council, have grown, so has criticism of the program. Its impacts are said to be exaggerated, with calculations based on ideal design impacts rather than real-life operations. Even one of LEED's creators, Bob Berkebile, calls the certification "a failure."

In CityLab, Brian Barth looks into the shortcomings of the LEED empire, weighing the merits of the more common critiques and charting attempts to dethrone the far-reaching program (the Living Building Challenge, for example.) Ultimately, though, we may not yet have the tool that can spur the decarbonization of the world's building stock—one that has both the high standards to achieve a truly sustainable footprint, and the mass appeal to penetrate the global building industry.

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Published on Tuesday, June 5, 2018 in CityLab
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