The LEED rating system is a “multifaceted and comprehensive system for designing, constructing and incorporating sustainability in certain types of buildings.” It has been a byword in green commercial real estate since the mid-1990s, and LEED certification has become increasingly valuable, popular and attractive in the past few years. However, many other “green experts” in the real estate market find the ratings system behemoth somewhat irrelevant to real-world sustainability, and now one developer is tackling LEED procedures head-on.
Henry Gifford and his company, Gifford Fuel Saving Inc., has filed a federal lawsuit against the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), the creator of the LEED certification system. Gifford is seeking class action status based on the contents of a 24-page complaint, alleging that, among other things, LEED is not based on actual building performance, objective scientific criteria or even real, verified data. Gifford’s criticism of the certification program is based around the fact that a LEED certification simply means a building meets the requirements to make a computer-modeled projection green-light the project. Additionally, Gifford believes that USGBC is not adequately staffed to perform comprehensive evaluations and that the council has mislead the public about how well LEED-certified buildings perform, leading to false assumptions about the value of a building that has been LEED-certified.
Criticism of Gifford’s lawsuit, which seeks restitution for people who bought LEED buildings that ultimately did not perform, is based mainly around fears that his attack on the USGBC will “chill efforts to promote sustainability.” However, if LEED does not work, then it is Gifford’s responsibility as an investor to bring that issue to light as best he can, and he is doing his best to do so.
Learn about real, profitable, investor-friendly green building that works on just about any property in the real world in any market in the holiday edition of the Bryan Ellis Real Estate Newsletter coming out December 15, 2010. The investor behind this strategy considers LEED “irrelevant” because she and her partner can apply practical, real-world solutions to buildings to increased appraisal value almost overnight and make those buildings permanently and truly sustainable.
Do you agree that LEED certification is becoming outdated?
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