• General Interest
  • Peer-Reviewed
Environmental Science & Technology · 2011

LEED, Energy Savings, and Carbon Abatement: Related but Not Synonymous

Eduard Cubi Montanya and David W. Keith

Efforts to green the building industry are strongly linked to performance metrics such as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). Yet, despite the importance of climate impact as a driver of green building choices, such standards typically address a basket of poorly quantified “green” attributes and, when they do address energy, they focus on conservation rather than carbon emissions so that that they do not provide an efficient guide to managing the climate impact of our building stock. Standards such as LEED will enable more cost-effective emissions reductions if they distinguish carbon footprint from energy use, avoid arbitrary cost ineffective assumptions about best paths for decarbonizing electricity, and close the loop by requiring objective measurements of real-world building performance so we can learn by doing.

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