The US Green Building Council’s federally adopted LEED certification system has come under legislative siege with lobbyists from the timber, plastics and chemical industries crying out, “monopoly!” Mississippi, Georgia and Alabama have lead efforts to ban LEED, claiming the USGBC’s closed-door approach and narrow-minded material interests have shut out stakeholders in various industries that could otherwise aid in the sustainable construction of environmentally-sensitive buildings.
Most recently, Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi, slipped in a last minute amendment to both the Housing and Urban Development and Department of Transportation appropriation bills stating no tax money may be used to require implementation of any green building certification system other than a system that:
1) is based on voluntary consensus standards that have an American National Standard Institute (ANSI) designation or were developed by an ANSI- audited designator, and
2) only excludes a building material if the exclusion is based on robust scientific data and risk assessment principles.
In accordance to Senator Wicker’s legislative rebuttal to a universally-accepted green building standard another, more industry-friendly alternative to LEED, made up of alliances such as the Society of Plastics Industry, the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers and the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates have united to form the American High-Performance Buildings Coalition.
“The danger,” says coalition member, Mark Colltaz, “in endorsing LEED as the single acceptable green building rating system for the federal government is it can lead to the USGBC’s further monopolization.” Consensus-based processes and voluntary building standards, claim the coalition members, would make up for the “scientific shortcomings” LEED has espoused by not awarding additional points in its 100-point rating system to the use of plastics and timber, among other materials.
However, earlier this summer, the USGBC — made up of 13,000 members from 46 countries and territories, including a diverse pool of industry representatives from manufacturing, education and construction — affirmed LEED’s continuing prominence as the green-building industry standard by voting to implement the newest version to the rating-system, LEED v4. The final tally was a resounding 86 percent in favor of the update. While this may not be a “voluntary consensus” according to Senator Wicker, 86 percent is a resounding victory for LEED.
Where do you stand on this issue? Take a look at the pros and cons of LEED and let us know what your thoughts in the comment section below.