Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends, covering entrepreneur profiles, interviews, feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. When she’s not writing she can be found exploring all that her home state of Michigan has to offer.
As a state licensed mechanical engineer in the HVAC/Plumbing consulting industry for building systems, I take contention with the LEED being associated with a ‘legit’ sustainable (read: green) certification. If you truly want your building to be energy efficient, I recommend you look to ASHRAE 90.1-2016. Far too often have I seen good money chase bad decisions in “LEED Certified/Silver/Gold/Platinum” buildings.
That’s not to say that LEED doesn’t have a laudable goal of a net zero/sustainable building, but it has poor execution even with multiple LEED consultants sitting in the room. Just because someone passed a LEED exam does not render them competent with energy use and consumption calculations. Often what the owner is paying for is an expensive tabulation of a private company’s checklist, at the expense of the design team’s time and effort. The mechanical engineer has to comply with your state’s energy codes and often is versed on applying methods above and beyond the code mandated minimum compliance – and in a maintainable manner!
Save yourself that 20-30% premium on building design, tell the team you want to follow performance guidelines that exceed your state’s energy code (e.g. use 90.1-2016 in lieu of 90.1-2013…etc.) and put the extra money into VFDs, envelope insulation, system controls, economizers, electrical monitors and meters, and an energy model explained to you by your engineers so you can compare it to your actual results.
Then again, sometimes it’s just easier to pay someone else a premium to do it for you. Best of luck, but don’t blindly accept USGBC’s LEED as The Standard on building energy design, there is a standard written by and for engineers who do this for a living.
Fun fact – ASHRAE 90.1 is referenced within the LEED reference book.
P.S. – Please don’t ever put plants on your roof. The maintenance nightmare is simply not worth the LEED point(s).
I am seeing most of the USDA Organic marks on products maybe it is because I am interested in organic products.
Please dont be disparaged by Paul’s statements. They do not reflect reality.
Thank you for the overview. There are many valid certifications beyond LEED and you do a fine job opening the door to additional research. Each step toward energy efficiency, decreased water waste, improved occupant environment quality is a gain for us all, regardless of a plaque or certificate.
Why is ISO 14001 Environmental Management Certification overlooked? There are around 15,000 companies world-wide who have earned this certification?
Another certification called “Plan BE” is an excellent business certification imho.