What’s in a name? LEED

Just saw this ‘bombshell’ update on one of the LinkedIn groups I belong to: LEED buildings are not necessarily more energy efficient than other buildings built in the same time frame (read more at http://lnkd.in/bksHRbh). This is not too surprising, as the points required to gain any level of LEED certification are broadly distributed across a big spectrum, and a building can reach enough points for certification in many other areas.

When LEED for Homes (LEED-H) first rolled into Canada, the energy benchmark for points was ***below*** the R-2000 standard at the time (2009 LEED for Homes standard was ERS76, R-2000 at the time was ERS80). In fact, the minimum requirements weren’t code compliant in Nova Scotia from Jan 2010 on. Pretty bad showing for a program with the words ‘energy’ and ‘leadership’ in the name. Part of the reason for this was the adoption of the standard US code and technical references. Details @ LEED for Homes Canada in comparison to code and other energy efficient standards in 2009 in this CHBA report.

In 2012, it was changed so that  LEED-H gave a project all 8 points available under ‘energy and atmosphere’ if it gained an ERS80 rating, equivalent to the 2005 R-2000 standard (and equivalent to HERS72 in the US), and minimum code compliance in at least 5 provinces. Since then, the R-2000 standard has been boosted to ERS 86 (well, the rating system has been revamped, so that figure is not really relevant any more — but that’s another post or ten to descramble the updated ERS rating). Seems ridiculous that a LEED-H project should get full points for meeting code in most of the country. Industry capability is much higher and LEED builders are likely to be able to move way past that mark. Points should be based on how far the project gets beyond the industry benchmark for energy reduction.

We have builders who are consistently reaching Net Zero Energy in Canada. We have builders who now offer nothing but Net Zero Energy houses. We have R-2000 builders who hit ERS86 or better. We have BuiltGreen builders in Alberta and Ontario rockin’ the low-energy house. In 2012, ENERGY STAR for New Houses builders provided 20% of the new housing stock offered in Ontario. All of these programs step far beyond code compliance. LEED-H could be providing a much more impressive leadership position on energy.