IS LEED TOUGH ENOUGH FOR THE CLIMATE-CHANGE ERA?

Twenty years ago, the U.S. Green Building Council piloted its LEED certification, which has reshaped architecture and real estate. There are now some 94,000 commercial buildings alone granted or awaiting LEED certification in 167 countries. But, CityLab contributor Brian Barth questions how much does it really dent buildings’ energy use, especially in an era focused strongly on resilient building and climate change.

The debate over whether LEED standards are strict enough originates, at least in part, from differing expectations of what a green building should be. The term “green” may bring to mind a carpet of vegetation on the roof or bamboo floors. Bike racks, waterless urinals, and electric-vehicle charging stations also connote environmental friendliness, and they’re common in LEED-certified buildings.