The costs of LEED certification

With everything going on these days, it has been tough to keep up with some important local issues. Some letters to the editor in today’s paper reminded me of the controversy over LEED certification for APS school buildings. APS Board member David Robbins has been fighting for sanity and cost-effectiveness against the movement to build school buildings to LEED standards and go through the certification process.

First and foremost, kudos to David Robbins. Even in times of increased concern about out-of-control spending, the person who sticks his/her neck out and demands efficiency or event cuts is often pilloried (Think Tea Party).

Secondly, it is important to clear up what LEED means. It is a marketing tool and it is just one of many supposedly “green” building methods. It is arguably not even more energy efficient than regular building methods.

What it does do is raise building costs. As this article notes:

Construction-related expenses for LEED-certified buildings can increase a project’s cost by about 10 to 30 percent. LEED certification alone can account for 5 to 15 percent of the total construction costs, not including funds required for other mandated expenses.

Architects and engineers usually demand higher fees for green designs. Green designers add value to the end product and provide extra services. A green-design professional typically charges 1 to 2 percent more for a LEED-certified building design.

These figures do not include the rates of a LEED Accredited Professional (which can increase design fees by 10 to 15 percent), LEED-certification application fees, or the costs associated with monitoring and reporting building performance.

We at the Rio Grande Foundation applaud Robbins’ stance and note that we pointed out the folly of LEED standards and certification back when APS was looking for more of your tax dollards.