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LEED Silver Coming to City Buildings in January

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[Architect Frank Gehry's Frances Howard Goldwyn Library in Hollywood via you-are-here.com]

The Los Angeles City Council decided this May that all new city buildings over 7,500 square feet would have to meet LEED Silver standards, but now it looks like those building will need a little more time. The council voted yesterday to push implementation from July 1 (that would be two weeks ago) to January 1, 2010. City-funded public works projects have been required to meet LEED Certified standards (a step below Silver) since 2002.

LEED certification at any level (there are four: Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum) is going to cost the city some cheddar, so is it worth it? In a recent LA Weekly article, Patrick Range McDonald writes about the weaknesses of Los Angeles's environmentalists "who must increasingly deal with the fact that labor unions, big businesses and politicians are embracing a green economy to solve their own financial and political woes." He calls LEED building, like many environmental policies backed by those groups, "green-washing," and says, "Lost in the push for LEED certification has been the pressing question of whether the environmental benefits of these buildings outweigh the negatives. Do these big structures cause more emissions by attracting increased traffic and encouraging congested streets filled with idling cars, for example, than they claim to reduce?" LEED ratings tend to focus on specific building features, and on construction rather than long-term considerations. LEED won't, for instance, penalize anyone for building a school next to a freeway, but it will require minimizing pollution associated with the construction of that school.

We're not going to stop building libraries and fire stations, so there's nothing wrong with trying to make the construction as environmentally sound as possible, but if it's costing us money, we should also get some real, long-term benefits out of it--for our health and the health of the city.
· ENVIROWIMPS: L.A.'S BIG GREEN GROUPS GET COMFY [LA Weekly]
· Thom Mayne Calls Bullshit on LEED [Curbed SF]