Yesterday I attended a test preparation seminar for LEED certification. I must admit it was something of an eye-opener.
I don't want to go off on the many, many goofy things that LEED covers. To say that this mess gladly embraces every wacky feel-good idea out there would be an understatement. Instead, I'd like to narrow the scope to how it impacts electrical work.
In practice, LEED is something handled by project management, and the majority of criteria - such as a bias in favor of having very few parking spaces - have no connection with our trade. Other criteria are sure to have unintended complications.
For example, there is a bias in favor of disturbing the site as little as possible, and in favor of building in city centers. The effect of this just may be to prevent you from having efficient access to the site.
Being a paper-driven process, expect materials to be specified in great detail. There is no substitution, or using 'generic' materials, without a pile of paperwork. Folks, paperwork is to these LEED folks what mud is to a pig. Are you willing, or able, to get documentation from Wheatland as to the recycled content of the conduit, or from Southwire for the wires?
A major effort is made to reduce, and recycle, job-site trash. As far as they're concerned, it's better for you to spend hours sorting through the waste for wire scraps, than to just pull that short piece you need off the reel. LEED has absolutely no interest in the reliability issues you KNOW you will have re-using stuff ... to them, it's all about being "green."
Likewise, they expect you to sort, and recycle, your steel offcuts and wire bits.
A LOT of claims were made regarding things like solar panels and windmills. We were literally told that affordable, efficient solar would already be here, except that demented EC's had relationships with the makers of less efficient, outdated gear - and were suppressing the new technology. Folks, I'm not making this up!
We were also that our local laws were all wrong, our local PoCo was the 'bad guy,' and that we needed to work to change all that.
OTOH, we were also gleefully told that each CFL saves 600 pounds of that nasty coal each year, and not to worry about the mercury in them.
Naturally, they fully embraced the sundry 'energy codes.' There is some irony here, in that the energy codes do not recognize the use of those CFL's. Therre was also a point issued if you eliminated 'light pollution.'
At numerous times, we were told that LEED had to defer to sundry other codes ... as there certainly are a very large number of conflicts between the LEED bias and the principles of these other codes.
The administration of the LEED program certainly is a cash cow for the "Green building council." Take your worst opinion of the NFPA, multiply by 10, and they still look like angels compared to the USGBC. These folks are positively salivating over the "stimulus" money.
Now ... it would help us all if those of you who have actually encountered this stuff in the field would chime in with your experiences.