Sunday, November 03, 2013

A Little Too Much LEED...

So, last week, in Sustainable Practices, the class had our midterm exam. The subject of this trouble?

A little something called LEED...

You know, I'm all for anything that helps the environment but it's pretty annoying how so many companies and people are trying to cash in on our collective guilt for crushing the environment. Maybe it's just me, maybe it's not just me, but I tend to look at everything "Green" with a very suspicious eye these days (perhaps you remember my first post?).

LEED, in theory, is very helpful and revolutionary in the world of construction and design. It is supposed to encourage and reward those who build or renovate properties to be as Green as possible. It can be effective in the commercial industry, especially. Which customer could criticize a company for trying to be kinder to Mother Earth?

Well, I still can't help but be skeptical of such things. And, after completing this exam (a mark which I hope won't haunt me), I felt a bit...disillusioned (again) about big Green promotors like LEED. Obviously, something like LEED is better than nothing like LEED (or so I hope!) but LEED is so not as earth-shattering (or earth-preserving) as some have made it out to be. In fact, it kind of gets on my nerves. Why am I so harsh? Let me explain.

The exam we did last week required us to write up a report on a hypothetical LEED makeover of our school building. Before the exam, we had been asked to read up on the CaGBC (the Canadian Green Building Council--mother of LEED). I definitely did and it seemed that the more I read, the more complicated and unhelpful LEED certification became. Then, when the test came around, we had to sort through a ninety-page document outlining ways to get LEED points.

That's right. LEED points. Guess what they are used for? Hint: It's really not so different from collecting tokens in a video game!

Well, the number of LEED points a building collects determines if it receives LEED certification. And at what level.

Ta-da!! LEED certification!

Hmph. Sounds pretty juvenile to me. And I have to say, going through that big checklist made me feel kind of silly. Ok, a lot of silly. Like a sugar-crazed kid zipping through an arcade trying to rack up as many points as she can so that she can win the shiny new ___ (insert trivial prize to be soon forgotten once attained).

What you see above is a page out of that ninety page document and yes, that is a 
checklist you can use to tally up those points I was talking about.

Since when is Green building about collecting points? It's just so ridiculous! Why? Because:

A) It's inaccurate (a cookie-cutter method of evaluating buildings isn't evaluation! What makes sense for one building can't always make sense for another! Location, purpose, original structure, etc. These things all matter and should be taken into account to decide how Green a building really is!)

B) What are you encouraging? This isn't a scavenger hunt, so why are you sending everyone on a weird chase to scoop up as many points as they can. Putting aside effectiveness (or lack of), all this point-racking seems to lose sight of what the actual point is. It seems impersonal, yes, but also turns "green-ness" into a commodity. And, come on, whenever something even starts to seem like a commodity, people exploit the heck out of it!

All together, I have to say, LEED may or may not prove to be effective in the future (it's still a relatively new system) but the way they go about promoting green buildings is certainly strange enough to make me wary of them.

And apparently, I am am not the only one! Here's an excerpt from an article written by an American woman:

"...what makes me see red in these kinds of "green" stories is the fact that all across our nation, all the way down to the local village level, the people who lead our cities and states have bought the so-called "sustainable" agenda hook, line and sinker. Either they are ignorant of what it represents, or they agree with the tyrannical scheme". Read on here.

So, on that delightful note, I hope that LEED does find a way to make a difference in the Green Building world and that they'll prove me wrong. In the meantime, I continue to recycle and use curlicue lightbulbs!

Happy recycling,

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