Is LEED Tough Enough for the Climate-Change Era? - NBWW | Nichols Brosch Wurst Wolfe
Twenty years ago, the U.S. Green Building Council piloted its LEED certification, which has reshaped architecture and real estate. But how much does it dent buildings’ energy use? Brian Barth In the late 1980s, revolution was afoot in the world of architecture. It started when a soft-spoken Kansas City architect named Bob Berkebile tried to convince the American Institute of Architects to do more to save the planet. In the spring of 1989, he petitioned the AIA to establish a committee to study and promote ways that the profession could become more eco-friendly.“The board of directors turned me down,” said Berkebile, now 81. In the Reagan era, the environmental movement had a Birkenstock-and-granola image that the men in charge at the AIA were apparently not prepared to adopt. However, Berkebile was backed by up-and-coming architects from around the country. According to him, they basically took over the AIA convention in May 1989: “We overruled them.” The resolution the AIA board had declined to endorse, “CPR: Critical Planet Rescue,” passed unanimously. The result was the AIA Committee on the Environment (or COTE). This new group, which Berkebile chaired, quickly became a force, collaborating with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on environmental research and producing new guidelines for architectural design. When President Bill Clinton, on his first Earth Day in office in April 1993, announced that he wanted to retrofit the White House as a “model for efficiency and waste reduction,” Berkebile’s committee got a call to help make it happen. “Within a few days, the line of corporations wanting to help started in D.C. and stretched all the way to Philadelphia,” said Berkebile, only half-joking. The dream of green buildings, which began with experimental passive-solar houses in the 1930s and hippie “zome homes” and “earthships” in the 1960s and ’70s, suddenly seemed commercially viable.As in any new industry, the companies involved wanted an organization to represent their interests. COTE already existed, and seemed like a natural fit. Its members included not just architects, but academics, environmental groups, real estate developers, financiers, and manufacturers of building materials. COTE was funded by a $1 million grant from the EPA. That spring, a real estate developer named David Gottfried and an attorney named Mike Italiano approached Berkebile with an alternative fundraising idea. Why not solicit money directly from the CEOs who seemed so eager to get in on the movement? But Berkebile was resistant. “I said, ‘because we are publishing scientific reports that challenge the quality of their products, and I don’t want to have a conflict of interest,’” he said. Shortly thereafter, Berkebile hosted a meeting in Washington to brainstorm a new organization that could accommodate the interests of the emerging industry while leaving COTE to focus on the science of sustainable architecture, unfettered by potential conflicts of interest. The 60-plus attendees included Gottfried and Italiano, along with Rick Fedrizzi, a marketing executive from Carrier, the air-conditioner company. The trio volunteered to lead this new initiative, which became known as the U.S. Green Building Council. Read the full story HERE >>> Source: CityLab Is LEED Tough Enough for the Climate-Change Era?