Despite an LEED-Platinum certification and praise regarding its sustainability from the press, Al Gore, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his administration, the Durst Organization’s Bank of America Tower isn’t all it was cracked up to be, according to an article published in New Republic.
The tower in fact “produces more greenhouse gases and uses more energy per square foot than any comparably sized office building in Manhattan,” and twice as much energy per square foot as the Empire State Building, the article states, citing city data.
The problem at the heart of the LEED rating system, the most popular stamp of approval among green buildings, is that it certifies new buildings before they are occupied, basing ratings on “computer models,” with emphasis on design rather than usage after the building is occupied.
In the case of the Bank of America Tower, that means energy-guzzling trading floors are not factored into the rating, despite certain “bells and whistles,” like water-less urinals, daylight dimming controls, and rainwater harvesting.
The point system used by the LEED, though taking into account building materials, air quality, water conservation and energy performance, allows developers to rack up points for “easy” measures, like working with a LEED-accredited professional, building near public transportation, and protecting or restoring habitat in Bryant Park, the article argues.