The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and its founders have been named as defendants in a class action lawsuit filed in federal court. Filed on behalf of mechanical systems designer Henry Gifford, owner of Gifford Fuel Saving, the lawsuit was stamped on October 8, 2010 at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Among other allegations, the suit argues that USGBC is fraudulently misleading consumers and fraudulently misrepresenting energy performance of buildings certified under its LEED rating systems, and that LEED is harming the environment by leading consumers away from using proven energy-saving strategies.
Ho boy. This is a can of worms, indeed.
Certifying buildings according to energy practices and design is one thing: making the connection between those practices and design and actual efficiency is a bigger deal.
For me, LEED and USGBC’s willingness to begin certifying neighborhood design in the same way they have certifying buildings–and we are nowhere near understanding how urban design really affects energy use, and the same problem with the building standards (imprecise estimates, compounded) can be much worse estimated across the neighborhood–or across a whole inventory of emissions sources.
At the same time, having one set of standards can be very important to developers so that they know what to aim for.
This will be interesting to see as it unfolds.