Tuesday, March 31, 2009

To LEED or not to LEED?

This has been a debate that I as an intern architect and as a sustainable individual struggle with professionally. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. There is a huge trend in the architecture industry and in related fields that pushes for sustainable design. LEED is currently the foremost standardized system that certifies buildings on various levels from silver up to platinum. And building professionals can get accreditation as a LEED professional showing they are knowledgable about the system. It is definitely a push in the right direction, but the problem is the system is not regulated enough. Many design professionals cut corners to achieve more points that in turn achieve a higher LEED certified rating. Looks great on paper, but doesn't always achieve a truly sustainable building; sometimes it is worst and more costly than without using the system. Here is an article that talks about this issue in more depth.
In the end, I am definitely someone who advocates sustainable design and a sustainable way of life, but I am not quick to jump on a bandwagon that doesn't quite perform to the best that it should. I think all architects should design sustainably without following a checklist to achieve points that may not even apply to a particular project. We should be taught these techniques in school or in the work-place, but unfortunately that isn't always the case. For now, it seems that LEED is the catalyst to achieving a sustainable built world. Hopefully with the current overhaul this year, the system will improve soon.

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