Plaintiffs recently filed a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York alleging that L.E.E.D. green building certification is a scam. The Complaint was filed against the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and others on behalf of those “who paid for L.E.E.D.-certification for property they owned in reliance on Defendants’ deceptive marketing claims that L.E.E.D. certified properties use 25% less energy and achieve CO2 emissions reductions over non-L.E.E.D. certified properties as well as improved air quality and improved water efficiency.”
The class action lawsuit also seeks to bring claims on behalf of trades, taxpayers and persons who design energy efficient buildings and who suffer injury by L.E.E.D.’s “monopolization” of the market through its fraudulent and intentionally misleading representations.
The allegations are sweeping. Plaintiffs allege that L.E.E.D.’s “rating system is not based on objective scientific criteria,” and that the “rating system is not based on actual measurements but rather computer modeling of anticipated energy use levels of a building’s performance.” Plaintiffs contend that the USGBC used a “skewed” sample in forming its determination of L.E.E.D.’s claims. The Complaint further argues that the USGBC’s decision to use “mean energy use” as opposed to “median energy use” misrepresents the truth, which Plaintiffs say “would show a mean average energy use value of 105, which is 29% higher than the mean average energy use” of the United States Energy Consumption Survey’s catalog of 5,215 buildings constructed as early as 1920. The bottom line is that the Complaint alleges that L.E.E.D. buildings perform worse than conventionally built structures.
If proven true, the whole L.E.E.D. certification movement may drop dead in its tracks. Of course, it is too early to form any judgments. Scientists and judges will need to sift through the data to find the objective truth.