Can Governments Really Afford LEED?

There seems a refreshing change in the air questioning municipal, state and federal agency mandates to LEED certify new structures under their purview.

No one finding their way here will question the environmental and social good–even a social demand–for building green by our public sector.  But in the midst of budget crises resulting in spending cuts at every level of government, the high cost of obtaining LEED certification (some 10 times higher than SERF, often more) is beginning to raise fiscal eyebrows.

Recent pressure on the DepartmentofDefense and the GeneralServicesAdministration at the federal level expose serious opposition to LEED mandates by those agencies from both Congress and industry groups.  One wonders whether taxpayer groups will join the fray if the GSA is more forthright and current on their calculation of the cost to obtain LEED certification (see our earlier posting, Paying, andpaying, fortheLEEDlabel.)

Local mandates and costs are harder to aggregate and quantify.  I will relate one anecdote from my travels this week in California presenting  SERF to AIA chapters. Following my talk at AIASanDiego, a Fire and Rescue project manager from the City of San Diego offered that owing to the City’s requirement that any of its structures of at least 5,000 square feet be LEED Silver, there are necessary public safety structures which go unbuilt because the city does not have the requisite money and staff time to devote to the exhaustive process.   A more streamlined and less expensive route to certification would not only save the City money, but allow them to move forward with mothballed projects.

Gee, we couldn’t have said it better ourselves.