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LEED Is Looking Forward

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I'd be hard put to call this latest skirmish about LEED's effectiveness a raging battle; it strikes me as being typical of the passionate dialogue that has gotten us to where we are today. It's people like the thousands of LEED committee volunteers and USGBC members who vote to continually raise the bar with LEED and, more importantly, those who use LEED on their projects every day. These are the people who have been most responsible for LEED becoming the global standard. They are the ones who get the credit for making the rating system as effective as it is by doing the hard work, asking hard questions and then actually offering thoughtful and sometimes even revolutionary solutions.

Since the inception of USGBC 20 years ago, and since the launch of the LEED green building rating system in 2000, the best part of my job is getting to see the impact that LEED and the USGBC community have made. Like most powerful transformations, the idea of advancing green building started on the back of a napkin.

In a few short years it has grown into a powerful global system that spans billions of square feet of space in 140 countries and territories. In that time (among other things) it has saved untold millions of dollars in un-wasted energy, which is the same as untold tons of carbon dioxide not adding to atmospheric change; saved trillions of gallons of water; saved untold waste; increased the existence of cleaner products; built entire industries that have reduced volatile organic compounds; increased the use of recycled content; created habitat; managed water use on site; altered the way people get to work; reduced storm water flow; reduced urban heat island effect; increased cleaner air in buildings; changed job sites; created thousands of green jobs; and helped ignite a market that today is doubling in size every three years. And these are just a few examples. There is so much more.

That's why the recent media debate and discussion over green building and LEED excites me. Green building performance has become a mainstream conversation. This in itself is a sign of true transformation.

LEED is a modern tool for innovators who aspire to make a difference through their leadership. LEED has transformed the way people all over the world think about the design, construction and operations of homes, offices, schools and hospitals -- in fact, almost every building type as well as entire communities.

And like all living systems that reflect our values, LEED is always evolving. We are now ready to launch LEED v4, a substantially more rigorous rating system, but one that also has real performance tools and metrics. And we are working on more.

The thoughtful, experienced members of our USGBC community practice LEED and share what they've learned, they advocate for policies that incentivize people to do the right thing, they teach, and they learn and get accredited. They argue. They disagree. They are never satisfied, but they defend LEED, because they know it delivers better than anything else.

The next time you read a blog or article that has an unusually high amount of uninformed criticism of LEED, ask yourself an important question: What reason does this person or organization have to tear down something that does so much good, environmentally, socially and economically? Maybe, just maybe, there's someone else pulling the strings.

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