USGBC Responds to Anti-LEED Criticism

08/23/2012 |

Steve Russell (left) objects to the GSA’s use of LEED, while USGBC member Roger Platt (right) defends the rating system.

A new industry group advocating for the General Services Administration (GSA) to stop using LEED rating systems to measure its green buildings has prompted the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) to respond.

The new group, the American High-Performance Buildings Coalition, is a partnership between the American Chemistry Council, the National Association of Manufacturers, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and other associations.

The coalition is encouraging members of Congress to urge the General Services Administration (GSA) to suspend their use of LEED unless “anti-chemical” credits are removed. To date, more than 2 billion square feet of commercial building projects in more than 130 countries are LEED-certified, and another 7 billion square feet are registered and awaiting certification.

“We welcome the announcement of the formation of the American High Performance Building Coalition, but as Ronald Reagan once said, we will ‘trust but verify,’” says Roger Platt, senior vice president of global policy and law at USGBC, in a statement responding to the group’s formation. “Like the newly formed coalition, USGBC also supports the use of green building codes and standards in addition to third-party systems like LEED and has worked with leading code development organizations to co-release the leading mandatory green building codes.”

The organization was formed following the release of the fourth draft of LEED v4 (formerly known as LEED 2012), which contained two credits calling for the elimination of certain chemicals and plastics – a provision the ACC strongly opposed.

The credits would have restricted the use of reflective roofing membranes, PVC pipe, plastic insulation, and vinyl siding and windows, the ACC says in a statement issued to members. According to the Center for Environmental Innovation in Roofing, a coalition member, the proposed credit would prohibit or strongly restrict roughly 90% of North America’s most common roofing membranes and roof insulation.

“By picking a single rating system, GSA effectively creates a monopoly for federal buildings,” ACC plastics division vice president Steve Russell noted in his July remarks to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. “When the entire federal government picks just one private standard, competition – the engine that drives lower prices, greater efficiency, and higher quality products – is removed.”


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