Dr. Chris Pyke, vice president of research for the U.S. Green Building Council, met skepticism when he spoke to UMW students and teachers on Sept. 14 about the design challenges and opportunities associated with the LEED building program.
The Green Building Council, based in D.C., introduced LEED in 1998 to encourage the public to adopt responsible building practices with is competitive rating system.
During the question and answer period, several people raised concerns with the LEED point system. Professor Michael Spencer, from the historic preservation department, mentioned how the system rewards developers who opt to destroy buildings rather than renovate them. He said LEED gives projects a higher score when builders demolish a building but reuse the old materials. Pyke agreed there are some unintended consequences, but they are trying to fix them.
Others discussed the Monroe Hall renovation project and mentioned how LEED influenced builders to throw away materials rather than treat them. Dr. Carter Hudgins, from the history and American studies department, mentioned the wood in Monroe Hall has lead paint, but instead of removing the paint builders plan to strip the wood and replace it with fiberglass. Pyke said, “The LEED process is like a scorecard. However, the scorecard should not drive the outcome.” Hudgins added that it might be time to reevaluate the program, and Spencer said this same concern was brought up at the last National Trust for Historic Preservation conference.
Ironically, a hairsbreadth separates the offices of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Green Building Council in D.C., but despite their geographic closeness, it appears their missions do not fully intersect.
– Chris Young ’11