UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

LEED Green Building Rating System : values of consumption Coleman, Sylvia


The United States Green Building Council's (USGBC's) Leadership in Energy and Design Green Building Rating System (LEED) is a product of its time and place. It is a fundamental assumption of this thesis that the most conscious, effective change is made through an understanding of causes and origins. That context is one of underlying North American values, as represented by North American consumer culture, environmentalism, and worldview. Having its origins in consumer culture, green consumerism is a paradox which addresses superficial change but not the underlying values and worldviews that drive large-scale change. North American environmentalism is uniquely wilderness-focussed and biophilic. And North American worldviews are undergoing a shift, or integration, which has consequences for the development of LEED. If the values of a consumer culture are embedded in LEED, and, if those values are opposed to that of a sustainable culture, then what will be the ultimate effect of LEED on the drive to increased building sustainability? By elaborating on the socio-cultural and conceptual origins from which LEED has arisen, which includes the creative tension between the environmental and industry groups that created it, the LEED system becomes contextualized and internal motivations illuminated. The implicit value-context is examined via qualitative, theoretical examination of the literature concerning consumer culture, environmentalism and worldviews, while the explicit social context for LEED is addressed through a case study conducted at the Vancouver Island Technology Park (LEED Gold award, 2002). Occupants were surveyed about their attitude toward the LEED label, green building, and environmental labelling in general. It was found that North American consumer culture was evident in how LEED is marketed and delivered. North American environmentalism was evident in the content of LEED performance areas. North American worldviews, both mechanistic and holistic, were evident in how the LEED system could be used, as a checklist for green building features, and/or as a holistic, integrative design tool. Recommendations were given to both environmentalists and industrialists in four areas, concerning LEED system specificity, green consumerism, the potentially problematic effect of technology transfer in other cultural contexts, and the differences between implementing green vs. sustainable building.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


For non-commercial purposes only, such as research, private study and education. Additional conditions apply, see Terms of Use https://open.library.ubc.ca/terms_of_use.