I hate LEED Certification

Posted in Uncategorized by a1icey on February 9, 2012

LEED Certification began in 2000 and has become extremely popular. We now have LEED version 3, featuring, among other things, an extremely restrictive lavatory water faucet “suggestion.” A lot of LEED decisions seem to be only tangentially related to the environment, like restricting cigarette smoking near entrances. But a place like New York Law School is incredibly susceptible to the alluring PR opportunities.

Do you know why I think that LEED certification is a bunch of bullshit?

The biggest environmental waste in NYC lifestyle/culture is eating at restaurants. Think about it (or read about it). We live in tiny group housing, take the subway to work, and live in an area with a massive supply of water, a system that famously leaks at a rate of 36 million gallons a day. Which isn’t worth fixing, frankly. We have tons of water. But Americans abuse our food supply in a way that’s getting increasing amounts of attention. The EPA is even publishing guidelines to encourage restaurants to waste less food. And New York leads the nation in wasting food. Meanwhile California is in a “water crisis.”

Why all this talk of water? Well, water is kind of the point. In New York, food is wasted at an astronomical rate, food that is already at the end of the supply chain, a resource in its fully consumable form. Ironically, California’s water goes towards growing this wasted food: 25% of America’s freshwater goes towards wasted food, and 80% of California’s water goes to agriculture. That means at least some portion of California’s water crisis is caused by food waste, or excessive food production. One of the most environmentally friendly things a New Yorker can do is prepare food at home, and control the amount of food they waste. I happen to make my food at home a lot. This involves a lot of tupperware and other plastic containers. It involves bringing knives and other silverware to school every day. It involves some elaborate reusable water bottles. But, in a school of 2,500 students, I have no place to clean my containers!

Thanks to our illustrious LEED Certification, there is only one (old) tap, out of almost a hundred, that actually produces a full flow of water. Nevermind how unhygenic everyones’ hands are, this is a major deterrent to preparing your own food. Everyone does a cost/benefit analysis, but convenience always wins in New York. The other taps produce a weak, thin series of water dribbles, that requires constant movement to keep activated, thanks to to a requirement by the LEED certification board that only accounts for a 20% reduction in water consumption.

So I have no water to clean my tupperware, because a state 3,000 miles away has overextended its’ water supply. Our city’s environmental problems are not the same as theirs. Of all the inconveniences we should add to our lives, controlling food waste rates a lot higher than unclean hands.

If people weren’t completely asleep at the wheel, there would be tupperware-cleaning station requirements for LEED certification in NYC.


Edit: TIL NYLS did not get LEED Certification – they merely complied (i.e., can call themselves “LEED Compliant” – certification is an additional 500,000 dollars of inspections and such, so props to them for forgoing that….


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