The GOOD 100: Ending LEED’s Monopoly

Follow or Get out of the Way: The household name in green construction needs to innovate in order to keep up with the...

Follow or Get out of the Way: The household name in green construction needs to innovate in order to keep up with the competition.

Imagine if teachers gave out grades on the first day of school based on students' promises of how hard they each plan to study. Oddly, we use this backward system to grade green buildings in the United States.LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is the certification system created by the U.S. Green Building Council. The USGBC certifies houses, commercial buildings, and other structures like schools and hospitals, awarding them points for things like interior air quality, proximity to public transit, and energy efficiency. Since 1998, it has been the standard in green ratings for buildings.But LEED's big weakness is that all of its measurements happen on the computer screen before the first bulldozer arrives. According to the USGBC's best calculations, LEED buildings use 25 to 30 percent less energy-while more critical calculations show them as no more efficient, or in some cases worse, than their non-LEED counterparts.Because LEED buildings don't have to perform up to spec in real life, LEED has contributed to a trend of showboating and point scrounging, leaving energy efficiency-arguably the most important metric-lost in the shuffle.
The average LEED building doesn't even qualify for an Energy Star label.
Amidst a rising chorus of criticism, other standards are finally starting to get more attention. The Passive House standard, born almost 20 years ago in Germany, hones energy efficiency so finely that most certified Passive Houses need no conventional heating boiler. The overall energy use of a Passive House is around 70 to 80 percent less than a comparable conventional building.I toured Passive House-certified buildings in Germany that ranged from homes to schools to gymnasiums. It quickly became clear that-at least when talking about energy-comparing LEED to Passive House is like comparing a Pontiac to a Porsche. And while the Passive House standard doesn't require energy monitoring after the fact (and maybe it should), studies of the nearly 20,000 certified buildings have shown sterling results.If the USGBC can't look at this as a wake-up call, it may be looking at a worthy competitor: Passive House is carving a foothold in the United States among architects and builders who are fed up with LEED or just looking for a new challenge. I've personally spoken to architects who are steering clients away from LEED towards Passive House for reasons of certification costs and energy efficiency.There is even inspiration here at home. Energy Star certification, administered by the EPA, has none of the sexy strut of LEED, but is quite rigorous, and includes actual performance testing. In fact, according to the USGBC, the average LEED building doesn't even qualify for an Energy Star label.But there's hope for LEED, yet. This year, the USGBC rolled out the newest version of its LEED standards, requiring energy and water consumption data for the first five years of a building's occupancy. If building operators don't provide this info, the USGBC can strip a building of its plaque.Finally, the idea that a building's actual performance should determine its grade is gaining traction.

via David Leavitt / Twitter

Anyone who has ever worked in retail knows that the worst thing about the job, right after the pay, are the unreasonable cheapskates who "want to talk to your manager" to get some money off an item.

They think that throwing a tantrum will save them a few bucks and don't care if they completely embarrass themselves in the process. Sometimes that involves belittling the poor employee who's just trying to get through their day with an ounce of dignity.

Twitter is rallying around a gal named Tori who works at a Target in Massachusetts after she was tweet-shamed by irate chapekate, journalist, and Twitter troll, David Leavitt.

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Childbirth is the number one reason American women visit the hospital, and it ain't cheap. In fact, it's getting more and more expensive. A new study published in Health Affairs found that the cost of having a baby with employer-sponsored health insurance increased by almost 50% in the past seven years.

The study evaluated "trends in cost-sharing for maternity care for women with employer-based health insurance plans, before and after the Affordable Care Act," which was signed into law in 2010. The study looked at over 657,061 women enrolled in large employer-sponsored health insurance plans who delivered babies between 2008 and 2015, as these plans tend to cover more than plans purchased by small businesses or individuals.

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A meteorite crashed into Earth nearly 800,000 years ago. The meteor was 1.2 miles wide, and the impact was so big, it covered 10% of the planet with debris. However, scientists haven't been able to find the impact site for over a century. That is, until now. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal believes the crash site has been located.

Tektites, which are essentially rocks that have been liquefied from the heat of the impact and then cooled to form glass, help scientists spot the original impact site of a meteor. Upon impact, melted material is thrown into the atmosphere, then falls back to the ground. Even if the original crater has disappeared due to erosion or is hidden by a shift in tectonic plates, tektites give the spot away. Tektites between 750,000 to 35.5 million years old have been found in every continent except Antarctica.

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