In a session at Greenbuild, architects from the firms DMJM H + N, and RNL Design discussed the state of sustainability in key international real estate markets, and the challenge of dealing with multiple rating systems. In total, there are more than 30 rating systems similar to LEED in use worldwide.
The panelists highlighted some recent developments:
In the UK, the BREAM standard is now mandated for new buildings, and has been incorporated into the building code. Panelists remarked that it may be many more years before this occurs in the US.
In China, while the number of buildings using the LEED rating system has increased, the panelists foresaw the rise of China’s own three-star rating system, which was initiated in 2006. In China, LEED Gold is perceived as easier to achieve than the third star in the Chinese rating system. China will eventually mandate the use of their own three-star system, which is also seen as more compatible with local building codes than LEED.
One reason LEED may continue to be used in China is the increased market value associated with LEED-certified projects.
An architect building LEED-certified projects in China thought the biggest challenge was getting good documentation. Chinese construction firms aren’t used to collecting the type of data needed for LEED certification.
In the Middle East, particularly U.A.E., a number of new LEED buildings are going up, but one panelist saw “social stratification and culture of excess”, and oil money, as posing major challenges for improving the sustainability of large, commercial architecture across the board.
One panelist pointed to multinationals (MNC’s) with overseas offices as key drivers of LEED. These firms want to work in LEED buildings for their own corporate sustainability and good governance purposes, and are creating a transnational demand for LEED. MNC’s may help turn LEED into the global rating system standard. BREAM is the second most-used green building standard worldwide.
An audience member raised a concern that new buildings developed by Western architects aren’t using traditional, local energy saving technologies that may be just as effective as LEED standards. She mentioned that traditional Indian ventilation technologies, once tested, easily matched LEED Platinum or Gold levels. The panelists answered that these technologies are not easily accessible, or documented, like LEED, and therefore not as likely to spread globally.
Find out about the 2008 event as well as Greenbuild 2009 in Phoenix.