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Since being introduced by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) in 2000, LEED certification has become a widely-used measure of the environmental sustainability of individual buildings, and by extension, cities and entire regions of the country, writes Cezary Podkul recently in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Yet more and more builders and cities are turning away from the LEED certification process because it, "can be lengthy, onerous in documentation and costly," and is often applied capriciously, writes Podkul, a staff writer of the New American City, a non-profit quarterly magazine based in Philadelphia.

Boston, for example, the first U.S. city to require all major construction projects to meet green-building standards modeled on LEED, does not require actual LEED certification.

LEED paperwork can take two years to provide, builders report. "Many green building projects have simply wilted beneath the paperwork," Podkul writes. In 2004, there were 93 buildings listed as LEED-compliant with another 1,100 waiting for final review. Today there are 744 LEED-certified buildings, but the backlog has grown to more than 5,300.

As a result, LEED is failing in one of its major objectives, to encourage innovative green building design and construction, Podkul contends. Read the full story here.