2013 - October

GREEN vs. SUSTAINABLE: ANALYZING AND EXPANDING LEED (LEADERSHIP IN ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENTAL DESIGN)

By Sonay Aykan

ABSTRACT

This dissertation investigates the possibility of including new socio-economic indicators in green building rating systems in order to promote innovative practices in the building planning, design, construction and operations by introducing a broader definition of sustainability in the building industry. It provides a comparative analysis of the frameworks, indicators and measurement methods of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), which is a voluntary green building rating system, and the reporting guidelines of Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) by examining several selected socio-economic indicators from GRI and questioning the possibility of introducing similar indicators (credits) in LEED. By doing so, it assesses the comprehensiveness of LEED against another widely-accepted list of metrics developed for sustainability benchmarking. The theoretical framework is based on a critique of contingencies inherent to various definitions of sustainability and an analysis of the new politics that is emerging through the discourse of sustainability. The research relies on the data collected from USBGC LEED Project Directory, documents submitted during the LEED certification process for four projects that pursue LEED certification and interviews with the participants of these projects, USGBC members and people who were actively involved in the preparation and implementation of the GRI guidelines. By depicting the intertwined relationship among the building industry, labor markets, financial and legal forces, the findings of this research show that development of socio-economic indicators for the building industry is not impossible, but is bounded to the methods of asset value calculations, regulations on labor markets, workflow structure of the building industry and the political structure behind the rating systems.

 


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