But Mom, I Don’t Wanna Be LEED!

But Its Delicious!
But It's Delicious!

Remember when you were a kid and your Mom told you to do something “just because I said so.” Didn’t that make you not want to do it? But when she said “if you do it, I’ll get you some ice cream!” you were much more motivated, weren’t you?

Don’t tell me what to do; instead, make it worth my while to do the right thing – and then I’ll probably do it.

There was an interesting post a few days ago on the Consilience blog about local incentives and mandates for green buildings around the country:

I particularly like the Portland “feebate” program, which:

… allows the city to assess a fee against developers who have constructed buildings that only meet the state building code. But this fee is waived for buildings that achieve at least a Silver LEED certification. Buildings which achieve LEED Gold or Platinum certification will receive rebates for their accomplishment. This will be a self-sustaining program by using the fee revenues collected from those buildings which are not LEED certified to finance incentives for the green buildings.

The fact that the program is self-sustaining is critical in these cash-strapped times.

There are other approaches to incentives – for example, Sunnyvale’s new green building program includes FAR (floor area ratio) and building height incentives for achieving goals above the base mandate; for residential buildings, the bonuses include height and density, for multi-residential, and additional lot coverage for single-family homes.

What green building mandates and incentives are you particularly excited by? Answer in the comments section.

6 thoughts on “But Mom, I Don’t Wanna Be LEED!”

  1. A self-sustaining program like the one mentioned is definitely a plus. Kudos to Portland for getting this passed. I can’t ever imagine something like this making it through the Philly system. Every builder, big and small, would be calling their local rep in outrage…

    If the LEED fees were taken care of with a rebate program I think we would also see those “leeding the way” (sorry about that) take their projects to the next level. Some of those rebated costs could be used to have more advanced research and energy modeling done on their designs. These costs could also simply be shifted directly into more insulation or better windows. Those on the cutting edge would be encouraged to move even farther and show everyone else the way. Once new concepts were proven by one cutting edge developers, others could follow at little to no extra cost.

    Another concept I haven’t seen any cities adopt yet is to actually create their own green building code and tie mandates or incentives to that. What if a city hired a Passive House consultant to create a new “green building code” that would spec out insulation values, window specs, window shading requirements, HVAC efficiencies and so on, so that every home built to that standard in that city would cut heating and cooling bills by 90%? This research and reporting could be done once by the city at little cost, and every builder and developer in the city and surrounding area would benefit by leaps and bounds if they decided to adopt it or even just read it once.

    Just sayin’. It’s an idea.

    1. Chad – thanks for the great comment! I like your idea of a “city mandate” that has specific requirements included. I think one of our big challenges is going to be getting the Passive House model (PHPP) to be accepted in municipalities as a legitimate modeling tool for building performance. Some of the standards – even Title 24 in California – accept “Alternative Calculation Methods” for proving energy compliance – but none of them that I know of call out the PHPP (yet!).


  2. Nils,
    We are doing this with our own solar panel construction project on our home, but as of today – right before the payment, it was decided that the payback of the Sales Tax fees would no longer apply to our hot water project.
    We still get the federal rebate but not the Sales Tax rebate on Hot Water Panels – I think this will slow projects down again as it takes away an incentive that was good.

    I have been enjoying reading your posts, even if I have not been commenting. I appreciate your research and efforts on keeping folks informed.
    .-= Tom´s last blog ..And Away They Go…! =-.

  3. The sustainable added bonuses sound like a big progress. Being allowed to have bigger space would definitely increase the revenue of a lot of businesses. Thank you for the valuable info.
    .-= Jason´s last blog ..dating manual =-.

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