Given the importance of buildings as major consumers of resources worldwide, several organizations are working avidly to ensure the negative impacts of buildings are minimized. The U.S. Green Building Council's (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system is one such effort to recognize buildings that are designed to achieve a superior performance in several areas including energy consumption and indoor environmental quality (IEQ). The primary objectives of this study are to investigate the performance of LEED certified facilities in terms of energy consumption and occupant satisfaction with IEQ, and introduce a framework to assess the performance of LEED certified buildings.
This thesis attempts to achieve the research objectives by examining the LEED certified buildings on the Arizona State University (ASU) campus in Tempe, AZ, from two complementary perspectives: the Macro-level and the Micro-level. Heating, cooling, and electricity data were collected from the LEED-certified buildings on campus, and their energy use intensity was calculated in order to investigate the buildings' actual energy performance. Additionally, IEQ occupant satisfaction surveys were used to investigate users' satisfaction with the space layout, space furniture, thermal comfort, indoor air quality, lighting level, acoustic quality, water efficiency, cleanliness and maintenance of the facilities they occupy.
From a Macro-level perspective, the results suggest ASU LEED buildings consume less energy than regional counterparts, and exhibit higher occupant satisfaction than national counterparts. The occupant satisfaction results are in line with the literature on LEED buildings, whereas the energy results contribute to the inconclusive body of knowledge on energy performance improvements linked to LEED certification. From a Micro-level perspective, data analysis suggest an inconsistency between the LEED points earned for the Energy & Atmosphere and IEQ categories, on one hand, and the respective levels of energy consumption and occupant satisfaction on the other hand. Accordingly, this study showcases the variation in the performance results when approached from different perspectives. This contribution highlights the need to consider the Macro-level and Micro-level assessments in tandem, and assess LEED building performance from these two distinct but complementary perspectives in order to develop a more comprehensive understanding of the actual building performance.