Thank you Tristan and LEEDUser for opening this blog up - I think it's very valuable. And thank you Brendan for your comments and reading and including ours.
So with M. Mead in mind - I suggest the USGBC put an small expert panel of 10 to 12 PE's and Architects with LEED experience (find them all on the EBN advisory board) and compensate them for their time to immediately address this very dangerous threat to the LEED system, design professionals, and to green building in general. This lawsuit has little merit - but it should serve as a wake up call to the future ones that will.
Does the USGBC REALLY want the MPR #6 data to come back to show LEED buildings don't save energy? I know I don't. Fix it now.
and some responses on specific comments:
1. No one here has said that energy modeling is useless - but it has its limits and, like any statistic, results can be presented to show what you want (ie what counts as a 'ventilation load'). Models are certainly useful at the research (DOE, NREL) level because then they are broadly educative. And frankly, I should be able to pull up an energy load profile chart for any standard building type, by climate and building size and use that to help clients spend their efforts solving the right problems from the very beginning.
And model results should be looked at in an absolute way - in addition to a relative way. A Hummer that improves its mpg 50% is still a Hummer. The EPA Energy Star Target Finder Database is one source of what the absolute kBTU/sf/yr number should be - the others like CBECS average nationally - which is misleading for building envelope (climate) load dominated buildings.
Spending thousands of a client's money to perfect a model past the point in the process where you can make substantial design changes for energy improvement is useless and wasteful (sorry Jason - I hope that is not what you are doing today). Model it imperfectly, improve it to an absolute EUI standard (then no baseline model is needed), and measure it all for 2 years.
Less time, less cost, more low energy buildings.
2. on energy vs.air quality: There are trade-offs throughout the entire spectrum of green building decisions. the point is not that we find the perfect intersection of everything. The point, is that we understand why and what we have chosen to prioritize. I've worked on LEED buildings for 9 years and green architecture and energy research for 9 years before that (absolutely no McMansions - wrong Sage Eric) - and I don't feel the LEED process is flexible enough to allow teams to smartly prioritize.
3. and finally, should zero net really be the goal? This is not to discount the value of showcasing what's necessary for this; but time and money and human energy are resources too. I think if we have policies that help get 80% of all (not just LEED) new and renovated buildings to 40% improvement over a standard EUI - we'll be doing pretty darn good.
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