LEED Follows Suburban Sprawl

In 2005 Alberici Corporation received Platinum Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) for its new headquarters in Overland, MO, a suburb of St. Louis. At the time there were just nine newly constructed LEED Platinum buildings in the world. Today the wind turbine is a familiar site for anyone driving I-170. So what could be the problem? The building perpetuates an auto-centric lifestyle. Its location in Overland among big box retail, office parks and warehouses require employees and visitors to drive, offering no transportation alternatives.

People are starting to take notice of these contradictions and LEED is growing up fast. It only makes sense that energy used by people in using the building should be a component of any sustainability rating system. Enter LEED-ND, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design – for Neighborhood Development.

As part of the new rating system the following are required: smart location, floodplain avoidance, walkable streets, connected and open community. Additional considerations include: brownfield redevelopment, bicycle network and storage, housing and jobs proximity and access to public spaces, among many others.

It’s very smart to promote green buildings, but what we ultimately seek is green living. We need to expose the fallacy involved with awarding WalMart a LEED-Silver designation. Given the incredible amount of energy used by WalMart stores, “greening” WalMart can have a substantial environmental impact. However, a “green” superstore is an illusion.

We quickly need to move to a model that recognizes “green” building as being more this:

{representative mixed-use development}

Than this:

{Alberici headquarters in Overland, MO}

{aerial view of Alberici headquarters – the parallel building on the north side is a parking garage}