What is LEED?
Leadership in Energy Environmental Design
Leadership in Energy Environmental Design (LEED) is a building rating system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) to “certify” green buildings. The USGBC is not a government agency, but several laws have been passed at the federal, state, and local levels, requiring new buildings be built to LEED specifications. Governments have also offered millions of dollars in tax breaks to private companies that build LEED-certified buildings.
Taxpayers have plenty of reasons to be concerned about the government endorsement of the USGBC standards. LEED certified buildings cost more than non-certified buildings to build due to additional certification costs and building materials, but studies show that LEED certified buildings are not necessarily more energy- or water- efficient than regular buildings. The additional cost of LEED certification despite any actual added benefits has led to increased criticism of LEED from a variety of media outlets, scientists, legislators, and environmental activists.
Photo Credit: Oregon Department of Transportation