We have all seen the show MythBusters, right? The science entertainment program that has answered questions ranging from “So exactly how hard is it to find a needle in a haystack?” (not very hard if you use a sufficiently powered metal detector), and “Can water dripping on your forehead actually make you nuts?” (not if you are relaxed and unrestrained).
Well, we decided to run our own MythBusters on common questions about high performance and LEED Certified buildings, and the answers from the experts might surprise you.
#1. “It costs a lot more to certify a building.”
FALSE. According to Vincent Bataoel, Cofounder at Above Green, “We can almost always certify a building with zero increase in construction cost.” This is because, in most places, building codes are already at or above the LEED energy performance thresholds. Does that mean he works for free? “No, but we’ll get the building certified for less than you thought.”
#2. “We already design to LEED standards, so we don’t need to get certified.”
OKAY. Sure, and you can also eat at a restaurant that hasn’t passed health code. Self-reporting is notoriously unreliable. The point of certification programs is to validate compliance.
#3. “We have LEED APs on staff that can do it for us.”
TRUE-ISH. You could also make your own cheese. Just because you can do something doesn’t make it a good use of time. According to data from Above Green, the average project takes 3-5 experts 500-750 hours to get done. That’s full-time at an expert level of performance.
#4. “It’s just a plaque.”
TRUE-ISH. With a majority of designers already designing to exceed code, one of the main benefits of certification is no longer performance. Bataoel says, “LEED doesn’t make buildings green, good designers make them that way. LEED just verifies the performance” but…”it is good for quality control and marketing, both of which matter more and more.”
#5. “Green buildings are only for liberals in Seattle and Portland.”
FALSE. Before climate change became such a polarizing topic in American politics, green building and energy efficiency used to be thought of as smart best practices. Ever wonder why all US Federal projects require compliance with LEED Certification or other Third Party Verification standards? You can thank George W. Bush for Executive Order 13423.
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