Are LEED-certified buildings energy-efficient in practice?

Ali Amiri*, Juudit Ottelin, Jaana Sorvari

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview Articlepeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)
203 Downloads (Pure)


Depletion of natural resources and climate change are undoubtedly the biggest challenges that humankind faces today. Here, buildings have a crucial role since they consume the majority, i.e., 30% to 40% of the total energy resources. Green building certification is one of the solutions to limit the energy use in buildings. In addition, it is seen to indicate a consideration for sustainability aspects in construction. LEED is the most widely used certificate worldwide. However, recently some critics have raised doubts about LEED and whether it actually implies sustainability. Most of the criticism has been targeted to the energy aspects of LEED. Nevertheless, there is no consensus on the usefulness of LEED: is it really beneficial for the environment, and is it worth of the money and time invested on the certification process? In this study a critical analysis of the literature to find an answer to this question is presented. Altogether 44 peer reviewed articles dealing with the abovementioned issue were selected out of 164 search result. Based on the studied material, the different aspects of LEED from the viewpoint of energy-efficiency are discussed. From the 44 reviewed articles, ten articles state that LEED certificate indicates energy efficiency while eight papers end up with an opposite conclusion. The rest of the papers do not take any stand on this matter. The study showed that energy efficiency of LEED-certified buildings is questionable especially at lower levels, i.e., certified. Therefore, it is recommended to modify the Energy and Atmosphere category of LEED in order to improve the actual energy performance of buildings.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1672
Number of pages14
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 20 Mar 2019
MoE publication typeA2 Review article in a scientific journal


  • Energy performance
  • Green building
  • Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design
  • Review
  • Sustainable construction


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