Does LEED Certification Save Energy? Evidence from Federal Buildings

49 Pages Posted: 30 Mar 2021

See all articles by Karen Clay

Karen Clay

Carnegie Mellon University - H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Edson Severnini

Carnegie Mellon University

Xiaochen Sun

Carnegie Mellon University

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Abstract

In the absence of first-best climate policy, energy efficiency has figured prominently among strategies to reduce carbon emissions. One of the most sought-after green certification in the building sector is the internationally recognized Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED). This paper examines the effects of LEED certification on energy efficiency in federally owned buildings. Using propensity score matching and difference in differences models, we find no effect of LEED certification on average energy consumption. This reflects the fact that energy use is one of a number of attributes that receives scores under the LEED program. Buildings with above average energy scores have greater energy efficiency post-certification. Some other attributes, notably higher water scores, decrease energy efficiency post-certification. Trade-offs across LEED attributes account for the absence of energy savings on average. If energy efficiency is the primary policy goal, LEED certification may not be the most effective means to reach that goal.

JEL Classification: O31, Q41, Q48, Q52

Suggested Citation

Clay, Karen B. and Severnini, Edson and Sun, Xiaochen, Does LEED Certification Save Energy? Evidence from Federal Buildings. IZA Discussion Paper No. 14211, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3813638 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3813638

Karen B. Clay (Contact Author)

Carnegie Mellon University - H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Edson Severnini

Carnegie Mellon University

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States

Xiaochen Sun

Carnegie Mellon University ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States

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