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LEED program fraud?

doorboy's picture

I don't know if anyone has been following this:
but it's interesting to see what others think.
I tend to be skeptical of most things that I think may be over-regulated OR susceptible to profiteering through guilt or fear.
I don't know if that's going on with the LEED stuff, but it sure seems like they've got a lot of work to do.

Edited 6/19/2009 12:55 pm by doorboy

(post #157767, reply #1 of 65)

A good description I heard recently is that LEED is only what, 6 or 7 years old at this point?  Building codes have been around for almost a century and we're still working on those.  LEED is just in its infancy--saying it's a fraud is like saying a baby is worthless because it's not productive.  We all need to contribute and help LEED grow up.  OR help a competitor of LEED grow up, if it seems like that's a better solution.

(post #157767, reply #5 of 65)

Another point to consider before we arrest all of the members of the USGBC is that this study is two years old. So these buildings listed were designed in the first few years of the LEED Process.  Additionally Energy efficiency is just one part of the equation. 

FYI:  The most recent version of LEED 3.0 puts more emphasis on energy efficiency.


(post #157767, reply #2 of 65)

LEED® Buildings Show Mixed Results
OTTAWA—A recently released report on the post-occupancy performance of LEED®-certified buildings found that on average LEED-certified buildings used between 18% to 39% less energy per floor area than their conventional counterparts. However, 28% to 35% of the LEED-certified buildings studied used more energy than their conventional counterparts. A team of researchers from the National Research Council of Canada's Institute for Research in Construction used measured data from 100 LEED-certified commercial and institutional buildings in the U.S., and compared their energy use to that of the "general stock" of buildings in the U.S.

There are some energy savings to be had. There are incompetent practitioners in every field of endeavor. LEED encompasses many elements that have nothing to do with saving energy. The program and process is imperfect, but no fraud.

(post #157767, reply #3 of 65)

I tend to agree w/ the other poster. Fraud is a pretty strong word. But I've seen LEED used on the commercial side as a sales buzz tool while playing it fast and loose w/ the process and the compliance.

However LEED certification undergoes scrutiny from the USGBC who reviews the design and the construction for compliance. Don't know if they tend to be 'soft' on compliance to generally encourage participation or if they scrutinize it with care. I've heard they are tough. Maybe on only silver and higher levels?

I routinely have seen (IMO) architects who boast certification of staff and use that to secure a project and 'strut their stuff' while at the same time thumbing their nose at simple, good ideas to improve the design. MY OPINION ONLY. I've worked around the LEED system since the beginning ... but have only had a few opportunities of working with designers on projects ... I'm not 'experienced'.

LEED can be a good thing. An easy concept of demonstrating better design through a simplified checklist. For seasoned designers ... they may tend to scoff a bit ... or simply shoot for platinum with their designs ... piece of cake. The LEED system was designed to enable/encourage designers to more easily move designs to 'green' and certify them using a kind of prescriptive approach.

There ain't NO free lunch. Not no how, not no where!

(post #157767, reply #42 of 65)

i vote fraud....LEED & Green make me puke

Mike Hussein Smith Rhode Island : Design / Build / Repair / Restore

Mike Smith Rhode Island : Design / Build / Repair / Restore


(post #157767, reply #54 of 65)


i vote fraud....LEED & Green make me puke


If you puke I will turn green

Due to the recent state of the economy, the light at the end of the tunnel has been turned off

Political correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional, illogical, minority and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end,

(post #157767, reply #4 of 65)

Fraud? Perhaps not a bad word, and I have trouble finding the right words.

LEED is flawed from the very start, in that it has absolutely no interest in 'building a better environment,' or any such thing. Rather, it is a vague umbrella to insert every touchy-feely social engineering idea into our lives.

That most of the things thaey encourage are in contradiction with each other, and deliberately discourages desires that have been proven by history, ought to tell you something. If not, the rapidly mounting fees and endless paperwork should get the message through.

LEED is simply about control. Control of every aspect of our lives, by unelected, self-appointed, unaccountable tyrants.

Since even the dumbest of us would object to such an agenda, they dress it up in all manner of nice-sounding pap.

Fraud is a criminal practice. These folks go way beyond simple criminality.

(post #157767, reply #6 of 65)

I don't see how "LEED is simply about control" when there's no one holding a gun to your head to make you get anything certified. It's a 100% voluntary program.

Your post about LEED being a "vague umbrella" is a much-more-vague rant than anything in the LEED program, which is chock full of codes, percentages, and the like. If you want to complain, at least mention specifics.

It's definitely an evolving program (too slowly, many complain) and it has flaws and room for exploitation. It's also bringing lower-impact products to a wider marketplace, and getting more engineers/architects/builders/trades up to speed on designing and building more energy efficient structures. I don't see where that hurts us as a nation.

My main observation is that no one should mistake USGBC's nonprofit status for small-scale.  The certification and professional accreditation programs are big business, and it sends their CEO and staff home with sizable paychecks. I still shake my head when many of the steps in the process being with "send your check to..."

(post #157767, reply #7 of 65)

I have no intention of letting this thread get bogged down in semantics, or quibbling over specific provisions, or going off on tangents.

Instead, I presented my conclusions. Whether someone agrees or not is there business. I am confident that anyone who looks into LEED will find the conclusions sound.

As for 'voluntary,' that is just so much nonsense. The entire thrust of LEED is to impose itself, by, for example, mandating that buildings have certain scores. This is one of the problems: the GBC endeavors to put itself in position to tell the various authorities what to do - without any of the checks and balances that limit governments.

The entire premise of LEED goes beyond simple fraud, into something much more sinister. Having minute details of a project dictated by an anonymous, unaccountable party resembles the practices of the worst governments ever known to man.

It would be bad enough were it based on something even resembling science .... but not a single of their assumptions are  without controversy; even if such basic concepts as 'global warming' are occuring, it is neither established that such is a bad thing - or that anything we can do would change it a bit.

LEED presents itself as if it were just another building code, when it is nothing of the sort. There are no specific rules to challenge or ammend or debate - just a variable point system, with many of the criteria having nothing to do with the building itself.

LEED is better understood as a political party, an organized group attempting to hijack the political process, without having to worry about such trivia like elections or open debate.

As a political group, it can only be about power. As to whether good intentions on their part are a 'plus' or a 'minus,' that is another discussion. Personally, I'd rather deal with venal motives than religious fervor.

(post #157767, reply #8 of 65)

I'll say that most of the criteria I have had to accommodate in LEED in the design of ventilation/heating systems are well thought out and good measures for energy efficiency, or health. and if you want an independent third party verification of the steps you are taking to make a building tread more lightly on the earth, this is how it is going to have to happen.

This is like complaining that any certification group is "about control". Of course they are about control. Someone wants to know what they are buying: having a set of criteria established to make apples to apples comparisons based on is the only way to do that, and that would of course control the process.

It's not perfect, but it is one big boatload better than the fat squat zero zip nothing we had before it. This system instead places control in the hands of the professionals involved in the building process to a very wide degree while making sure many good practices are followed.

If you don't like it, use a different certification. There is R-2000, for one quick example. But paranoid ravings about control and political parties is ridiculous. You think anyone who wants to create a competing standard should have to go through the government to do it? Isn't that kind of anti-free-market?

-=Northeast Radiant Technology=-
Radiant Design, Consultation, Parts Supply


Rockport Mechanical

HVAC Design and Installation in beautiful Rockport Maine

(post #157767, reply #10 of 65)

i  am  not  leed  certified.....  and  have  not  built  any  energy  star

of  course,  i'm  pretty   sure  we  would  fall in the  top  25%  if we  were  trying  for  certification

i  am   disturbed  to   see  who  appears  in the  forefront  on  the  state  level.. it  seems  like  all   the  crooks  i  got  to  know  in  the  '80's , when  the  solar  industry  was  corrupted  and    hijacked   by  the  energy   tax  credits,  are  now  leading  the  charge  for  leeds,  energy  star  and  "green building"

a  lot  of  what  i  see  is  one  big  crock  of  shid

 however....   there  are  people  involved  who  do  have  my  respect   (  like  you  for  instance )  and    some  others  i  have  known  since  the  '70's

but  separating  the  wheat  from  the chafe  is  very  time  consuming  and  i  have  a  business  to run  and  a  life  to  live

ever  see  or  hear  from  old  what's his  name  ... robert  riversong ?

how  did  that  new  glazing   technology  fare ?  haven't  heard  any more  about  it for  a  year  or  so

Mike Hussein Smith Rhode Island : Design / Build / Repair / Restore

Mike Smith Rhode Island : Design / Build / Repair / Restore


(post #157767, reply #11 of 65)

Mike, Robert Riversong posts frequently at  The format there seems to suit his style.  It would be great to have your input over there if and when you have a chance.

(post #157767, reply #13 of 65)

I see yet another person who disagrees with me has resorted to personal attack. I consider that further evidence I'm on the right track.

Now ... would someone be kind enough to tell me where the Constitution assigns the responsibility to 'save the planet?'

No matter how you slice it, LEED is all about government attempting to insert itself into areas where it has no jurisdiction. That alone makes it odious.

(post #157767, reply #15 of 65)

If my words are personal attacks, it's because your position is ludicruous.

LEED is not a governmental agency. If it becomes so, it would be because the market has demanded and valued a third party accreditation for the standards it wishes to uphold, and just like BOCA or any number of other third-party codes that have been adopted by municipalities it serves a need for standards by inspection/permit authorities.

Your comments are, quite simply, FUD. Perhaps you have some good points in there, but it's hard to see what with all the misdirection and hand waving about "political parties" and whatnot.

Let me say this slowly again so you understand: USGBC is a non-profit. Not a governmental agency. Constitutionality does not apply. If LEED is adopted as a supplementary building code in any jurisdiction, though, it would be on the same grounds as any building code is: public safety. Energy security, pollution issues, and health issues are all a part of our public safety. VOCs, poor ventilation, pollution from power plants and a million other things are killing people in this country every day, and addressing them in a building code is not even remotely controversial in my opinion.

You don't have to like LEED, but right now whining about government in this is like claiming "consumer reports" is all about "government control". The two have about exactly as much to do with the constitution as the other. and if the town of Jefferson Maine decides that all of our town purchases, where applicable, must be 5-star ratings on a consumer reports index, I wouldn't necessarily fight that either.

-=Northeast Radiant Technology=-
Radiant Design, Consultation, Parts Supply

Edited 7/18/2009 12:52 pm ET by NRTRob

Edited 7/18/2009 12:53 pm ET by NRTRob


Rockport Mechanical

HVAC Design and Installation in beautiful Rockport Maine

(post #157767, reply #9 of 65)

I hope you didn't have to remove your tin foil hat to type that. Wouldn't want "them" to get control of your brain while you were responding to me.

I'd don't see where LEED gets to mandate or impose anything unless the Owner decides they want to participate. If your local government decides to legislate a policy that "all new buildings will be LEED certified," and you don't like it, vote your preference next election day. Otherwise, it's the Owner's (home/high-rise/retail/muni/whatever) call.

And they do have a process to do updates and take input, one that many complained was too slow in developing the just-released version 3.0. But I doubt that "get rid of your fascist/commie/pinko rating system" is really a viable option.

NRTRob has it just right- it beats the #### outta the big load of nothing that was out there before.

(post #157767, reply #12 of 65)

I can see that we have great differences in our approach to life - and that's perfectly fine.

I also graciously accept your surrender - as expressed by your descent into personal attacks.

Ih your heart, you know I'm right.

(post #157767, reply #14 of 65)

Say something substantive and I'd be happy to respond. Otherwise, what you've written comes across as so fundamentally ill-informed and confused about what exactly LEED is and how it works that I don't begin to know how to respond.

LEED is a voluntary building certification program. USGBC is a non-governmental, nonprofit corporation. Neither is government.

LEED is not mandatory unless an Owner says it is. Since they generally have the power of the purse, that's within their purview.

If you don't like it, opt out. Go work for an Owner who doesn't see the need. If the market (i.e. a whole lot of Owners) decide they all want to build things differently, then get on board or find another line of work. It's that simple.

(post #157767, reply #16 of 65)

I recently earned the LEED AP credential and am very, very familiar with all of the aspects of LEED as concerns new construction, major renovations in commercial buildings.

I disagree with all of your conclusions. I agree the system and the concept are imperfect and will continue to evolve and improve over time.

Do you have any examples for any of your assertions? If the entire process is flawed as you have concluded, examples should very very easy to provide.

Which Prerequisite(s) or Credit(s), for instance, "deliberately discourages desires that have been proven by history"?

(post #157767, reply #17 of 65)

LEED provides credits for locating in an urban core, along mass transit routes, restricting parking, and in planned developments. History has shown a continual desire by people for exactly the opposite ..... people would much rather live in a noce house in the suburbs, and find plentyful parking at the Mall.

Likewise, there's a simple reason contractors don't "mine" the trash heap for 'recoverable" materials; history has shown this is a very poor use of the contractor's resources.

I've yet to attend any LEED function that was not chock full of assertions as to just how terrible the American way is; an assumption that adopting the Kyoto accords is wise, just, and inevetable; considerable criticism on Nevada's energy laws (with an exhotration to work to change them), and the obligatory speach about global warming.

These other parts of the presentation are clearly political, and an attempt to get you to legislate their ideas into use. The "green building council" can claim to be a private party all they want, but they are attempting to exert political power.


(post #157767, reply #18 of 65)

So, fat dumb and happy is good enough, right? We've always done it this way, so why should we change? Cheap and fast is best? Look for the union label? Buy American? Ignorance is bliss, so it seems.

I don't agree with every part of LEED, but much of it makes sense. Much more sense than burying our collective head in the sand and going poo poo on everything we don't understand or like.

Contractors do what is good for contractors. Period. You have to make a profit to survive, but many already b1tch about having to comply with simple building codes to keep them from killing their customers. Not exactly the historical precedents to take us into the future.

Urban flight is a different issue, but you have a good "Frenchy" logic going there. Interesting.

BTW, the basic provisions of the Montreal and Kyoto Protocols are law in this country. Not going to be, not being considered, but are right now.

Practical applications of the concepts must apply. Blindly wasting time and money, "stepping over a dollar to pick up a dime", is stupid. But the ignorant statement that it is all a scam and has no merit whatsoever, is more so. You have to fully understand them before you can apply them.


(post #157767, reply #19 of 65)

All fine and well ... for one to pursue what they consider good design is a right. It is not the role of government to make those decisions for us - and most certainly not the role of government to assign the task to a third party.


(post #157767, reply #22 of 65)

It is specifically the role of the government to step in and force decisions that are accepted to be for the general benefit of society - i.e. requiring construction conform to the adopted/amended building codes. No one would voluntarily comply unless there were consequences (enforcement, fines) otherwise. Those building codes, in many juridictions, have included minimum energy efficiency requirements for years if not decades, and all have some minimum ventilation requirements. These are very similar to some of the credits and prerequisites contained in LEED certifications.

Seeking LEED Certification is completely and entirely voluntary. Its like peeing yourself in a dark suit: it gives you a warm feeling, but no one else really notices or cares. The USGBC has created a collection of guidelines, all produced, published and sold by other organizations like ASHRAE, and a way of "keeping score". If I were the owner of business and was going to pay for a new building, I would seek to acheive many of the better ideas that are covered in the LEED certification requiremens, but not all.

In my opinion, for a professional NOT to persue what they consider good design is negligent, at the very least and probably incompetent.

(post #157767, reply #23 of 65)

I am curious ... where does the Constitution say that it is the role of the government to force decisions for the benefit of society?

As best I can tell, our entire society is founded upon the principle of limiting government, rather than following the rest of the world in limiting the governed.

I submit that it is our unique, truly revolutionary approach that allowed us to progress from colonial backwater to world power in 200 years. During that same time, we have seen several world powers fade into obscurity; that Spain, France, and Britain faded in direct proportion to their acceptance of statism is not coincidence.

(post #157767, reply #25 of 65)

If government did not force decisions for the benefit of society, there would be no reason to have a government.

It starts with forcing people to pay taxes for armies and governance. It goes from there.

I submit it is a continent full of massive amounts of natural resources, a good climate range, and a distinct lack of nearby enemies that allowed isolationist policies to dominate a america from 150 to 250 years ago and set the foundation for america's ascendance to the world stage starting in the early to mid 1900's. But don't mistake what worked then for what will work forever. Britain learned that lesson during the industrial revolution. Perhaps we too could be smart enough to learn from history.

Or you can bury your head in the sand and pretend that life is like the old west if it just weren't for those danged politicians trying to control everyone. either way.

-=Northeast Radiant Technology=-
Radiant Design, Consultation, Parts Supply


Rockport Mechanical

HVAC Design and Installation in beautiful Rockport Maine

(post #157767, reply #29 of 65)

I appreciate your passion, and thank you for further illustrating my claim that environmentalism is a religion, and a political movement ... but certainly not science, and has no place in law.

There are numerous places as blest, some even more so, with resources ... and they wallow in poverty. If natural resources were the key, North Korea would be thriving, and the Japanese would be starving.

When building codes were begun, the reasoning was solid: don't follow the load tables, and something will break. Or disease will spread.

Now though ... how do we tell if the sky is falling?  It's not a fit topic for legislation.

(post #157767, reply #34 of 65)

hey, we're governed better than north korea, imagine that. I agree it's a combination of factors that led to our rise as a world power, but those factors are not going to carry us in perpetuity if we do not protect ourselves in terms of keeping our environmental toxicity down, and our domestic energy security guaranteed. Especially as cheap exploitable resources dwindle.

But what worked before will work forever, of course. Ask the Easter Islanders.

-=Northeast Radiant Technology=-
Radiant Design, Consultation, Parts Supply


Rockport Mechanical

HVAC Design and Installation in beautiful Rockport Maine

(post #157767, reply #35 of 65)

Environmental toxicity .... domestic energy devurity .... now, if those arren't textbook examples of wonderful political issues. Let's keep politics out of building.

(post #157767, reply #44 of 65)

Not being poisoned by someone else's profit generation is a political issue? Environmental toxicity is not a legitimate concern?

If that's "political" then I don't see anything that we should keep politics out of. That's one step from saying it's "political" to stand in the way of someone choking me to death in my sleep. Toxicity has direct victims and direct perpetrators. That's about as political as a mugging.

"Free markets" reigned on that issue for a long time. Rivers caught on fire in those days, remember? And what cleaned it up? I'll give you a hint... it wasn't 'market demand'. because there is always a market not near the burning river who will gladly pay you to keep on keepin' on.

Building is political. Everything is political. Your actions affect others. If you want to take radical propositions such as "municipalities and states cannot stop people from polluting", then hey, good luck to you. the future isn't looking too bright for your philosophy, and I'm glad for it. It had its day and failed.

-=Northeast Radiant Technology=-
Radiant Design, Consultation, Parts Supply


Rockport Mechanical

HVAC Design and Installation in beautiful Rockport Maine

(post #157767, reply #45 of 65)

If you think that central control by an all-powerful, all-wise burearcracy can provide us with solutions better than the free market, good luck!

Look at any -and I do mean any- such place, and you find the absolute worse environmental practices.

Not to be forgot is all the disproven environmental crusades; perhaps the easiest one to research is the totally unfounded banning og DDT - leading to millions of unnecessary deaths to disease.

Add to that the extremely questionable assertions regarding today's cause celebs, and it's all the more reason to keep the heavy hand of government away.

Also, do not overlook that only a small part of LEED has anything at all to do with what most folks consider 'environmental' issues. Centrally planned communities, politically directed development, and support for more massive, failed mass transit projects are integral to LEED. Heck, driving an econobox isn't enough; these folks want us riding bikes and busses.

As for the scope of governmental involvement .... that debate was settled over two centuries ago. Yet, I fail to see even the smallest attempt made to ammend our Constitution to allow these agendas to proceed. rather, there is an underhanded attempt to impose them by lawsuit and administrative fiat. This is yet more proof it's about power - and not 'saving the planet.'

(post #157767, reply #46 of 65)

again, there is no constitutional issue. states can do whatever they like unless they violate a constitution: they don't need a constitutional permission to do anything they are not prohibited from.

The feds can't make laws, but they can withhold funding. That too is completely constitutional.

I would have much more esteem for your arguement if you could at least understand the basics of the situation you are complaining about.

and I will still hold up the burning river issue as indicative of the type of problem that required government involvement to fix. and it always will. the problem is here, ah, but the money is over there and doesn't care what's happening here. "here" being ground zero.

Energy reduction through building quality or lifestyle facilitation (mass transit and planned development) directly affects all of this. But you go ahead and keep stomping those feet.

Riddle me this: what state in america uses the least energy per capita?

look on the right side at total energy usage per capita. top of the list? A who's who of states who have the least regulation. The bottom? A who's who of states with more regulation.

Huh. It works. Go figure? Oh right, this is a government study, obviously they are just trying to justify their own funding.

-=Northeast Radiant Technology=-
Radiant Design, Consultation, Parts Supply


Rockport Mechanical

HVAC Design and Installation in beautiful Rockport Maine