Is LEED Lingering Behind?

In a twist of acronym irony, it seems that 2011 may be the year that LEED falls behind. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is the ubiquitous certification and rating system to encourage, standardize and award sustainable building efforts. The United States Green Building Council (USGBC) developed the LEED Rating System, “the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings.”

The Cascadia Green Building Council is one of the three original chapters of the USGBC and has been heavily involved with the development and success of LEED in the Pacific Northwest. When Cascadia founded a new green rating system, the world took notice. The new organization is the International Living Building Institute (ILBI) and its mission is an alluring and inspirational string of words:

“To encourage the creation of living buildings, sites, and communities in countries around the world while inspiring, educating and motivating a global audience about the need for fundamental and transformative change.”

The ILBI extended the Living Building Challenge, the most advanced and demanding green building rating system in the world (think net-zero energy and water consumption). The Living Building Challenge poses the question, “What if every single act of design and construction made the world a better place?” What if indeed. The challenge is designed as an evocative guide, platform, beacon, unified tool, performance based standard, and a visionary path to a restorative future. Does this make you salivate? Or is it just me?

“It’s official: we now have concrete evidence that buildings can benefit the ecosystems they inhabit. Click here to learn more about the three pioneering projects that prove it can be done.”

In an effort of full disclosure, I should note that the USGBC has endorsed the Living Building Challenge. The ILBI claims their standard is in no way meant to compete with LEED, rather to function as an, “additional outlet to promote the goals set by the USGBC…it establishes a vision for a project’s environmental and social responsibilities from a new vantage point.” I have to wonder, if the Living Building Challenge isn’t mean to compete with LEED, is it meant to complete LEED? This would implicate LEED as inherently incomplete.  To be blunt, if LEED was demanding enough, Cascadia wouldn’t have launched ILBI.

I am sincerely looking forward to watching ILBI collect momentum and waiting to see if ILBI and LEED walk into the sunset holding hands, or if ILBI will leave LEED behind.

Catch the rest of our 2011 shelter trends.

(Thank you to JWT Intelligence for calling my attention to ILBI).

(Image of the Omega Center for Sustainable Living from ILBI.)