ACC calls green building rating system 'fatally flawed'

Published: June 26, 2012 6:00 am ET

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Topics Construction, Sustainability, Public Policy, Materials, Suppliers

WASHINGTON (June 26, 12:40 p.m. ET) — The American Chemistry Council called the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) Green Building Review “fatally flawed” at a June 25 session to discuss a revised rating systems for federal government use.

Under the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA), GSA is required to evaluate green-building certification systems every five years to identify a system “deem(ed) to be most likely to encourage a comprehensive and environmentally sound approach to certification of green buildings.”

The last review in 2007 resulted in GSA using LEED as the exclusive green building standard system of the federal government. For 2012, GSA commissioned Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to prepare the Green Building Certification System Review, and the June 25 session was held to gather input from the public and key stakeholders, such as the manufacturers of energy efficient building products.

Keith Christman, ACC’s managing director of plastic markets, outlined what Washington-based ACC considers limitations of the GSA report.

According to ACC, the report offers only a cursory examination of the green building rating systems it reviews, including the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED program and the International Living Building Institute’s Living Building Challenge (LBC).

Neither program operates in a manner that meets the consensus requirements necessary for the federal government under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA), according to ACC.

“No one green building system meets all the federal requirements outlined in EISA. There is no basis for the continued monopoly for LEED within the federal government. GSA should expand its review to consider recommending any consensus standard that meets EISA, including ASHRAE 189.1 and the International Green Construction Code,” Christman said.

“The review merely accepts USGBC’s claim to be consensus-based without critical review. Numerous, substantial stakeholder groups in building and construction, as well as members of Congress, have argued that LEED standards are not consensus-based,” he continued.

Christman pointed out that the GSA review focuses on LEED 2009, not the current LEED [version 4] draft under consideration by USGBC, and that GSA “should not implement a different version of LEED than the one the agency has reviewed.”

“Each change is a new standard. If GSA and DOE want to use a new version of the standard, they would need to conduct a new review,” Christman said.

LEED version 4 has been the subject of concern and criticism from elected officials in Congress and across the country because of its arbitrary restrictions of chemical substances essential to many of the very products that contribute to energy efficiency.


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ACC calls green building rating system 'fatally flawed'

Published: June 26, 2012 6:00 am ET

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