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Is San Francisco Reconsidering Its Green Building Legislation in Light of the LEED Performance Debate?

The San Francisco Chronicle has picked up on the recent flurry of commentary generated by Mireya Navarro’s piece in the New York Times about the LEED building performance gap. The article opens up by stating “[r]evelations that many buildings certified as green under a broadly accepted national standard for energy savings are not performing as well as predicted recently prompted changes to the [LEED] program and are forcing San Francisco officials to consider amending city rules that are tied to the older guidelines.” However, a closer look at the substance of the article suggests that city officials may actually be trying to expedite the application of the LEED 2009 system and its corresponding Minimum Program Requirements (“MPRs”) to large, private construction projects. (As you will recall, the new MPRs require that projects which pursue LEED certification to “commit to allow USGBC to access all available actual whole-project energy and water usage data in the future for research purpose” or risk decertification.) I also think the piece is noteworthy because it suggests an inextricable link between increased data reporting and increased building performance.

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Paul D’Arelli Calls San Francisco Green Building Ordinance “LEED on Acid”

In an article that we recently posted over at gbNYC, green building attorney Paul D’Arelli of the Greenberg Traurig law firm calls San Francisco’s new green building legislation “LEED on acid.” Mr. D’Arelli points out that San Francisco’s new legislation now penalizes developers who redevelop real property, holding them to a higher green standard than developers who are building on vacant parcels. For example, if a project involves demolition work, it must achieve an additional 10 percent in LEED points in order to comply with the ordinance. “There is no correlation required in terms of the extra points required to comply with the mandated 10 percent increase and the goals sought to be advanced in rehabilitating rather that redeveloping buildings, namely preserving embodied energy and materials in existing buildings and reducing the consumption of energy and materials in constructing new building,” D’Arelli writes.

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