Are “Green” Buildings Actually Green?

An important addendum to Monday’s earlier post on “green” buildings is to note that there are substantial questions about whether LEED certification is really a good measure of environmental impact.

The standard—and, indeed, correct—point to make about this is that the difficulty of assessing what really is and isn’t the greenest option is one of the main arguments for something like a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system. There are a lot of useful things that can be done through regulation or explicit purchasing, but ultimately the emissions implications of individual economic decisions are extraordinarily difficult to calculate. By pricing emissions at the source and then letting the price filter through downstream economic transactions, you reduce the need to ponder these issues.