The battle over green building standards heated up recently as the Ohio state Senate voted to ban LEED v4 for government building projects.
The latest update, version 4 of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standard was adopted by the membership of the U.S. Green Building Council in July of 2014.
At the hearing for the bill on January 28, Senator Joe Uecker, one of the bill’s sponsors, stated that LEED v4 "eliminates the use of a number of safe and effective building materials, impacting numerous industries in Ohio."
The legislation, which needs approval from the state’s House of Representatives and Governor before taking effect, also gives priority to alternative rating systems that are typically favored by industry groups.
The legislation states:
“The [USGBC's] LEED v4 green building system fails to conform to recognized voluntary standard development procedures, including but not limited to [ANSI] procedures and fails to base environmental and health criteria on risk assessment methodology.”
Industries allegedly affected by LEED v4 include the timber, plastics, and chemical industries, which are also supporters of the competing Green Globes rating standard. Green Globes was established in 2004 by the Green Building Initiative (GBI).
Ohio, ironically, is a leader in LEED certification. Last December, the USGBC recognized the state of Ohio and the Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC) for certifying the 100th public school building in the state. Ohio leads the US with more LEED-certified public schools than any other state, with hundreds more in development.
“The OSFC and the entire state of Ohio are national leaders in creating healthy, sustainable schools,” said Rachel Gutter, director of the Center for Green Schools at USGBC. "Since 2007, we've watched the OSFC successfully grow a program that shows LEED is working for Ohio — these schools are saving money, energy and resources. Ohio shows a deep commitment to the well-being of its students, teachers and communities through the use of LEED.”
Tyler Steele, the Chairman of the USGBC’s Central Ohio chapter, noted that “Ohio is the No. 1 state in the nation in green schools.” In addition, “Since adopting LEED, Ohio’s green schools have outperformed baseline energy performance by 34 percent, almost 200,000 tons of construction waste has been diverted from landfills and occupants report improved educational outcomes,” Steele explained.
The Green Building Initiative has been labeled “greenwashing” because of its corporate and industry supporters and its efforts to weaken LEED standards. Writer Lloyd Alter has written that “the Green Building Initiative is a sham set up by a former Louisiana Pacific lumber PR executive, Ward Hubbell, for the explicit purpose of creating a rating system that allowed SFI certified wood.”
The SFI (Sustainable Forest Initiative) was established in 1994 by the American Forest and Paper Association. The FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) was founded in 1993 by “ a group of timber users, traders and representatives of environmental and human rights organizations.” LEED has refused to recognize SFI, which lead Ward Hubbell to establish the GBI, as Alter wrote. FSC vs. SFI has thus been interwoven with LEED vs. Green Globes since Green Globes’ inception.
Mississippi, Georgia, and Maine have also taken aim at LEED through legislation or executive order.