Due to Gov. Richardson’s Executive Order #06-001, New Mexico law currently requires all public buildings over 15,000 ft2 to be LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver certified.1 According to the U.S. Green Building Council, these building requirements are intended to promote "sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality".2 The reality is that this effort to make public buildings in New Mexico more "green" increases costs and doesn’t necessarily provide more energy-efficient buildings.
LEED standards can include building a minimal number of parking spaces in order to encourage the use of car pooling or public transportation, the addition of charging facilities for electric cars, and installing large numbers of bike racks.3 Certification for new schools constructed throughout New Mexico has added between $2,350 to $ 7,950 per building, not including additional material or design.4
The added costs of LEED Silver would be a small price to pay for buildings that are more efficient and better for the environment, but there have been numerous examples of LEED certified buildings failing to meet their long-term efficiency goals.5 This failure has even been recognized by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), which noted in its own study focusing on 121 certified buildings that "more than half – 53 percent – did not qualify for the Energy Star label and 15 percent scored below 30 in that program, meaning they used more energy per square foot than at least 70 percent of comparable buildings in the existing national stock".6
The truth of the matter is that in many cases the efforts led by the USGBC have created more costs while failing to provide more energy-efficient buildings. Executive Order #06-001 should be overturned immediately so that tax-payers are not put in the position of funding inefficient building projects that do little or nothing for the environment.
1U.S. Green Building Council, "LEED Public Policies," May 1, 2009.
5Henry Gifford, "A Better Way to Rate Green Buildings," http://www.energysavingscience.com/