Saturday, March 29, 2008

LEED is Just Not Enough

The U.S. Green Building Council and their LEED certification process is truly making a difference in the building industry. See Jetson Green's ovation for their recent success: Green Buildings Financially Crush and Outperform Non-Green Buildings!!

That's all well and good, but look at some of the real hurdles we're setting for ourselves. Take California for example. Executive Order S-3-05 targets a reduction in greenhouse gases to:

  • 2000 levels by 2010
  • 1990 levels by 2020
  • 80% below 1990 levels by 2050

This means that by 2050 we must reduce our emissions to roughly 17% of what they are today. Yikes. So how do we attack this? Well, transportation is roughtly 41% of emissions, electricity production impacts 22% (with 75% of that used for buildings) and residential and commercial bulidings emit roughly 9%. The built environment affects 2/3 of CA's GHG emissions.

So even if every single building in the state achieves LEED certification , we won't even come close to meeting this target. The solution? To realistically meet this target, we need to stop building buildings. And reduce single occupancy driving as much as humanly possible. We need to find new ways to create energy and transport goods / people through our cities. We have to overhaul the system. LEED certification just isn't enough by itself.

Admittedly CA, as usual, has set some of the more aggressive of U.S. policies, but all the government targets I'm seeing (and listed on the USGBC website) require significantly more attention than we're giving them today. Find the public policies that affect your neck of the woods. Turning off lights and driving hybrids is not going to do it. We need to engage in some extremely creative thinking about how we work, recreate and live.

Companies that are starting to think this way today are already avoiding costs and receiving kudos by environmentalists at the same time. It takes time to work through these issues, but isn't it worth it?

1 comment:

Ken Levenson said...

If people are looking for a fairly comprehensive list of the things they can do now to move our society toward such dramatic reductions my I suggest taking a look at "Checklist Toward Zero Carbon"

Download it, edit it for your local conditions, make it your own and pass it on.

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