Friday, 8 June 2012

Indian Building Receives Highest LEED Score Ever

This building in India, for Bayer the multinational pharmaceuticals and chemical company, is claiming the highest ever LEED sustainability rating.  According to Tafline Laylin writing for Inhabitat the building only misses out on five of the LEED points available.  That suggests almost perfect performance in energy savings, water savings, and just about every aspect of sustainable building performance as defined by that rating framework.

Forgive my cynicism.  Even a casual reading of the claimed performance reveals interesting contradictions.  Being a remarkably conventional, albeit heavily insulated construction, only a 40% reduction in primary energy is recorded after a year's operation.  A 70% saving in electricity usage, compared to conventional buildings of the region.  On the other hand, the roof is indeed covered with photovoltaics, and apparently that is enough to supply the building's energy needs.  I balk at the polyurethane insulated panels, perhaps because of the toxicity of the smoke they give off should there ever be a building fire. Or because I just can't bring myself to believe that they are regionally appropriate sustainable building material.

But I shouldn't be so prejudiced.  I suspect it merely demonstrates that the current LEED point system is woefully inadequate to capture any reasonable and rigourous representation of building sustainability.  Apparently the US Green Building Council is issuing a new version this year.  I hope the next building that is claimed to be the world's highest rated inspires more confidence.

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