A new study from Carnegie Mellon University found that LEED-certified federal buildings are not using less energy than non-certified federal buildings.
The finding may be due to trade-offs in how their energy score is developed with energy use being just one of many attributes examined by the LEED program. In some cases, owners and developers may trade off energy savings for other goals to improve design and comfort in buildings.
For example, energy consumption from sensors in water-efficient bathrooms and landscaping systems may reduce building energy efficiency. “If energy efficiency is the primary policy goal, LEED certification may not be the most effective means to reach that goal,” according to the study’s report.
Overall energy consumption also depends on usage. If the building is used more after a renovation, then more energy may be consumed.
The study examined 1990-2019 data from GSA’s Energy Usage Analysis System and the Green Building Information Gateway to consider the impact of LEED certification on federal buildings.