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When LEED was introduced it became a revolution in the construction industry changing the way Owners, Designers, and Builders approached jobs.  The major objective was to create "sustainable" buildings, or in another words buildings that would utilize the least amount of resources to construct and operate over their lifespan including ensuring that the lifespan was maximized to reduce demolition and reconstruction.  All great goals and this definition should not be forgotten as LEED evolves.

It also had some ancillary targets associated with changing human behavior including utilizing previous site locations, cleaned up "super fund" areas, and locating facilities in higher density adjacent to mass transit.  Once again some great goals that have less to do with the use of resources for the building, but if we consider the impact the occupants make on resources or the affect the building can have for the community, they loosely fit with the original goal.

I have a fear that the movement will continue to add unique qualifiers that are less about the facilities use of resources and in the end could sour individuals on the main goal.  When a goal or definition becomes too broad most forget the main purpose and it get's lost completely.  For instance, if your company's mission statement is to have the best safety record in the industry, everyone understands the mission.  It is very specific, but if you modify it to be the best, then everyone can define it as they see fit and the original mission of safety is lost.

Recently I have been noticing a trend where the LEED process almost becomes more about appearing to save the environment than actually looking at building the most sustainable building.  For example, LEED gold and platinum projects where they are moving mountains of dirt in lieu of finding a way to place the buildings on the site where the least amount of resources can accomplish the construction.  Another example is the use of solar panels to provide a nominal amount of power to the facility with little regard for the best solution for the building.  I believe the feeling was that we are building a "Green" building and nothing says green like solar.

What I would like to see is that everyone involved in construction to return to the value of "sustainable" and not drive for LEED or design elements just because they feel good.  If we continue down this path, the momentum that LEED has achieved in such a short span of time will be lost.  Everything we do in construction should always take into account the best use of our resources (both natural and human), and we should design and construct with that in mind.  If we do, LEED certification will come naturally.

About the Author

Craig Pierce

Craig Pierce has been working in the construction industry for the past 25 years helping subcontractors master their trade. Currently he is President of Atalanta Enterprises which provides consulting services to contractors And software solutions through ConstructionMonkey.com.