Green Buildings Deliver Higher Performance, GSA Study Finds
The GSA study, conducted by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, showed that federal buildings certified to the LEED standard have 26 percent less energy use, 13 percent less maintenance cost, 27 percent higher occupant satisfaction and 33 percent fewer carbon dioxide emissions, compared with comparable US commercial buildings. The study also found that “GSA’s LEED Gold buildings, which reflect a full integrated approach to sustainable design…achieve the best overall performance.” Of particular interest was the first finding: “fully integrated design delivers higher performance” as reflected in the LEED Gold buildings, especially with respect to energy use. This finding echoes the theme of my most recent book, (McGraw-Hill, 2008), which investigates more than 30 LEED Platinum projects. Interestingly, the average energy use of 65,000 BTU/sq.ft./year (about 19 kWh/sq.ft./year) is way behind the best European commercial buildings, which demand only 5 to 15 kWh/sq.ft./year energy use for heating, cooling, lighting and ventilation. So, even though GSA has made a lot of progress, US architects and engineers have a long way to go to match European buildings’ better energy performance and lower carbon emissions.