WIT Press

LEED Gold but not equal: Two case study buildings


Free (open access)


Volume 14 (2019), Issue 1



Page Range

52 - 62

Paper DOI



WIT Press


F.D.F. Baja, S. Bajracharya, M.A. Freeman, A.J. Gray, B.T. Haglund, H.R. Kuipers & O.R. Opatola


The layman’s perception is that Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and building research  Establishment Environmental assessment  Method (brEEaM)  certified buildings are inherently green, eco-friendly, and sustainable. in the architectural community, there is widely held recognition of the shortcomings of LEED and its uK relative BREEAM. The upstart Cascadia Chapter of the USGBC factored in the creation of the more ecologically articulate Living building standard. In the UK Mark Skelly, Director, Skelly & Crouch, echoes this notion, ‘BREEAM is useful for setting a brief for clients or planners who don’t know much about sustainability. But when a client is interested in the design process and has an intelligent brief tailored to its needs and function, a rigid adoption of a BREEAM target can get in the way of the true beauty of creating and making. BREEAM plays an important role in the industry, but it is no substitute for a thoughtful iterative briefing and design process.’ the university of idaho campus has recently added two LEED Gold buildings – one a new research laboratory and the other an extensively remodelled classroom building. Over the last two years, teams of graduate students have performed post-occupancy evaluations of these buildings with foci on daylighting, energy use, occupant comfort, and ecological fitness. in the course of these studies university facilities staff were interviewed, occupants surveyed, daylighting and glare analyses performed, actual energy compared to modelled use, design alternatives explored, and life cycle cost analyses performed. this paper will present comparative results for the two buildings and shows that equal LEED ratings do not guarantee equal ecological performance, and in fact, can be attributed to widely divergent ecological performers.



BREEAM, daylight analyses, energy modelling, LEED, post-occupancy evaluation, user surveys.