McDonald’s re Recent LEED Criticism

McDonald's LEED

You’ve probably heard that Fast Company wrote a recent article about some of the potential problems with the LEED system.  Well, Bob Langert, Vice President of CSR at McDonald’s, just wrote a small response to Fast Company Magazine in an article titled “LEED = Progress for the Environment.”  Starting with the quote, “Perfection is the enemy of good,” Langert continued:

From my own personal experience, I know that our team of engineers and building development professionals within McDonald’s has studied LEED and all that the USGBC has achieved over the past decade. We joined the USGBC this year, and to us, LEED is an outstanding development that has helped advance sound, practical and motivational ways to make building construction more sustainable.

LEED ought to be commended as one of the best environmental initiatives of the past 20 years. It has set the stage for companies like ours to do more in the future.

Sure, there is always room for improvement, and as such, there will always be critics saying more needs to be done. And like many a standard, LEED will continue to evolve and strengthen over time.

So there you have it.  McDonald’s has a LEED certified store in Savannah, Georgia, too.  They’re studying the store and working out how to incorporate what they’ve learned into future stores (possibly with the LEED for Retail program).

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  • Jeff Demetriou

    I think the point of that article was to illuminate a few of the seemingly obvious contradictions found within the LEED program that are somewhat contrary to it’s purpose. We ourselves are not electing to go with LEED for our projects in Atlanta for a number of reasons, but the largest among them is the fact that we believe we can do far more outside of the program and actually have a more substantial impact environmentally speaking. The real solution to climate change is reducing the use of coal an the easiest way to do that is reduce energy consumption in homes and businesses. LEED does address this, but it also gives its “points” for things that, while beneficial, don’t really address the real crisis at hand. A point for a bike rack shouldn’t be worth the same as a point for getting 50% of your power from a renewable source and that’s where LEED has a ways to go…not to mention it costs $3000 to get certified in the residential program.

  • Preston

    It is a valid concern that too much time, money, and energy might be going towards the actual process of certification, as opposed to the greening of the structure. And I hope this improves, but the existence of a recognizable, verifiable certification provides a metric for assessment and improvement.

    This is the age-old debate: obtain the certification or go ahead without it. We might as well be arguing whether it makes more economic sense to get an MBA. There’s an argument on each side: spend $3k on certification or spend $3k on green amenities. But what if the $3k provides green value? That is the point of the process — it costs money, but it adds value.

    The point mongering argument is weak. Sure, when you consider the point given for bike storage, as compared to a point for maybe the efficient HVAC system, you think it’s easy to point pick. But really, the point given to bike storage is meant to be considered within the context of everything you have to do to get the certification. You can’t get 30 LEED points for bike storage. It’s just one of the many points, but why get so worked up about a dang bike storage area anyway — it’s good for the workers.

    And anyway, the mere ability to game LEED points shouldn’t be a reason to not do it. Just go through certification by not gaming the points and you’ll be fine.

    That said, I’m sure you can build a green building without the certification … you will know it and I will know it, but will your insurance provider know it? Will the tenant know it? Will the employees know it? Will they believe it?

  • Jeff Demetriou

    Preston. I agree with much of what you are saying;however, the point you make about certification being important because LEED is the recognized/standardized system is true, but only in sustainable/environmentally informed community for the most part. The general buying public, particularly in Atlanta, doesn’t know LEED from a hole in the wall…and even if they have heard of it, they still require an explanation of what LEED is and what makes a LEED home gold, silver, or platinum. So in the end, LEED, at least in the residential market, is a marketing tool or brand that is going to take as much education on the part of the consumer to understand as any other certification. They are all going to convey a home’s level of “greeness” or “sustainability”, but in the end, a house that is LEED is going to take the same level of explanation and education as a Super Green House 3000 (made up of course) would because that level of inherent understanding of what constitutes a LEED certified project that you and I take for granted has fully permeated through the collective conscious of society. At least that’s the case here. I think the LEED residential program is good for builders that have no clue on how and what they need to build sustainable, but have such a desire. The structure LEED provides would benefit such a builder and would be worth the expense and time. But for me, LEED at this point is a $3000 logo I can put on my sign and since I’m doing these as spec…that’s not a justifiable expense. Check the projects out at
    Love your site BTW. I read it everyday.

  • Jeff Demetriou

    I meant to say that “what constitutes a LEED certified project that you and I take for granted has NOT yet fully permeated through the collective conscious of society.”

    I love it when my typos are at the most important parts of a paragraph.

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