Many university campuses in the United States are working toward their sustainable goals by adopting energy or green building policies, which require Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) certification for new construction and major renovation projects. Because LEED certification heavily relies on whole building energy simulation to demonstrate building energy performance improvement, it is often assumed that the finished buildings will achieve the predicted level of energy efficiency. This paper presents a study that compares the energy model predictions with actual energy performance of three LEED buildings on a university campus. The study shows that one of the campus LEED buildings consumed twice the predicted energy usage while causing a high level of occupant dissatisfaction. Further investigation reveals a variety of contributing factors for these issues and provides insights to improve green building policy and practice. Not only are the research findings important for this particular campus (Ohio State University) on its way to sustainability, they also have widespread ramifications for other university campuses.

This content is only available as a PDF.

Author notes


Associate Professor, Department of Food, Agricultural, and Biological Engineering, The Ohio State University (corresponding author), chen.1399@osu.edu.


Master's Student (graduated), School of Environment and Natural Resources, The Ohio State University, lkleinman@healthierhospitals.org.


Director, Energy Services and Sustainability, The Ohio State University, dial.15@osu.edu.