Working Paper | March 9, 2009

Don’t Worry About the Government? The LEED-NC ‘Green Building’ Rating System and Energy Efficiency in U.S. Commercial Buildings

This paper describes the history, development, and current operation of USGBC and LEED, particularly with regard to energy efficiency in commercial buildings, the subsector in which LEED has had its greatest impact. The narrative situates “green building” in a political as well as a business context. While USGBC may well have been “the right idea at the right time,” its leaders skillfully seized both political and business opportunities. The paper returns in the later sections to the role of LEED in future efforts to improve building energy efficiency, which may be perceived with greater clarity once its past and present are better understood.