LEED, follow or get out of the way … of taxes that is

I was reading the other day about how all those buildings with LEED ratings are costing taxpayers, and recalled all those casino executives bragging about how their then-new casinos and hotel were “green” friendly because they earned an LEED rating.

What I don’t recall, nor do I recall any news reporter ever asking, is just how much the ratings saved the builders in tax exemptions.

You know LEED, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, those designations handed out like so much Halloween candy by the U.S. Green Building Council for being efficient and environmentally friendly.

Plaque in lobby of Palazzo.

It turns out, according to an article in USA Today this past summer that I somehow overlooked, a LEED tag can be worth millions, not in savings on power bills, but on tax exemptions.

The Palazzo hotel and casino, built by the Las Vegas Sands and its owner Sheldon Adelson, 12th richest person in the world, managed to grasp a $27 million tax break over 10 years because it did such things as putting a bike rack in the garage and putting cards in hotel rooms suggesting towels could be used more than once.

The green building gurus reportedly looked past their own policy and overlooked the fact smoking is allowed in the 2.5-acre casino.

The Palazzo also got credit for having preferred parking for fuel-efficient cars. When USA Today checked those spots were occupied by Ford Expeditions, Chevy Tahoes, Range Rovers, Mercedes E320s, Chrysler 300s, Audi A6s, vans, sports cars and a Hummer.

Writing in the Washington Times recently, David Williams, president of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance, reported that a study of 11 U.S. Navy-owned buildings revealed four certified green structures were outperformed by noncertified structures; three more were at parity; and four others narrowly outperformed conventional buildings.

“The U.S. General Services Administration, which serves as the landlord for the federal government by managing its various properties, estimates that each federal project in which LEED certification is pursued costs the taxpayers an additional $150,000,” Williams wrote.