The Northland Pines LEED appeal (a complete history is available here) and the Deepwater Horizon spill illustrate an inherent problem in any regulatory system–there will always be people who are looking to avoid regulation and commit fraud, and there will always be regulators looking to protect the status quo of regulations.
Many people have called for the abandonment, execution and other stringing up of the LEED system because there are flaws, perhaps including the ones identified in the Northland Pines appeal. Just in the past few weeks, in addition to Northland Pines, we have seen criticism of the USGBC for its wood credits and its alleged failure to take into consideration human health issues. Frank Gehry, from his vaunted position as one of the world’s most famous architects, has fired his own shots at the LEED system, saying:
I think the issue is finally a political one,” Gehry said. Referring to the LEED (for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system…Gehry said: “A lot of LEED is given for bogus stuff.” The costs of making a green building are “enormous,” he said, and “they don’t pay back in your lifetime.”
He tried to clarify his position here a few days later.
But we cannot throw out the baby with the bathwater. LEED is the system that got people started thinking about the greenness of the built environment. It needs to progress, as all regulatory systems do, through amendment and challenge, like laws do. It is neither right for the USGBC to resist or be defensive to this natural regulatory process, nor is it right for LEED’s critics to suggest dismantling the entire LEED system. As my mother once said, there has to be something between everything and nothing.
Article by Shari Shapiro appearing courtesy Green Building Law Blog.