If you’ve read this blog series thus far, you probably agree that we need to reinvent green building so it can reach its full potential and not get stuck with just dealing with the “1 percent,” where it currently stands. We need to approach the problem with new ideas and new intentions. When innovators started designing green building rating systems during the Bill Clinton Presidency in the 1990s, they had many contrasting and not wholly reconciled environmental goals in mind.
Developers of LEED (and other systems) never went to the larger user base to ask what they wanted in a green building standard. I’m not sure that would have been very useful at the time, because those (few) users who cared about sustainability wanted to be told what to do by experts.
But times have changed. Building owners are now much more sophisticated about green building and sustainability—go to any conference and listen to building owners, and you’ll agree. But these owners need a standard that will meet their business needs and be implementable by property managers and facility managers, while still delivering reductions in energy and water use and reducing overall carbon emissions.
A new green building manifesto needs to take into account this new attitude and orientation, along with building owners’ and facility managers’ more sophisticated understanding. We need to rethink LEED’s “everything but the kitchen sink” -- splashing-more-paint-on-canvas approach -- and refocus our energy and attention on climate change, water scarcity and waste generation. This is the task I set for myself in writing Reinventing Green Building, the book on which these blogs are based and which is now available for you to purchase and read!
That is our task ahead. We may want to keep the complex LEED rating system for use in large new buildings designed for and operated by high-end building owners who value a more comprehensive and challenging certification regimen. So in that sense, LEED, BREEAM, Green Globes, Green Star and similar systems have a valuable but limited place in the green building certification market.
But the “other 99 percent” need a system that makes sense to them, one they can implement (as with Jones Lang LaSalle's Green + Productive Workplace system) with minimal staff time, and get not only an evaluation of where they stand, but also clear direction as to how to proceed in the future. In our concluding blogs, we present five scenarios for evolving new directions. I hope you'll be interested in looking at new ways to continue the green building revolution!