The Ohio Senate passed a resolution urging the ban of LEED Version 4 (v4) in Ohio state agencies and governments. This is the first public criticism of LEED certification in Ohio, despite LEED’s arguably important role as a desirable benchmark for governments and businesses as they move toward sustainable and environmentally conscious building standards.
This resolution, known as Senate Concurrent Resolution 25 (SCR 25), seeks to stop Ohio state agencies and governmental entities from using the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) v4 green building systems.
The USGBC is a non-profit entity that developed LEED as a national building rating system for the design, construction, operation and maintenance of energy efficient or “green” buildings. A building may earn a specific LEED certification level through a point based system. The resolution urged Ohio state agencies and other government entities to use green building rating systems that are “consistent with state energy efficiency and environmental performance objectives and policies” and that meet American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standards. SCR 25 suggests that LEED v4 “fails to conform to recognized voluntary standard development procedures,” including those found in ANSI, and “fails to base environmental and health criteria on risk assessment methodology.”
SCR 25, bolstered by the support of the Ohio Chemical Council, further requested that the LEED v4 no longer be used by Ohio’s state agencies and government entities until the USGBC conforms its system development to the ANSI voluntary consensus standard procedures as confirmed by ANSI or until the state, after an opportunity for public comment and participation, incorporates the LEED v4 system into Ohio’s administrative rules. Specifically, the chemical industry in Ohio objects to LEED v4 because certain plastic and chemical products are not given LEED credit. Consequently, certain products and materials that do not meet LEED standards, but are otherwise perfectly acceptable building materials, will not be used in building projects seeking LEED v4 certification.
The legislative debate over SCR 25 has been intense and enlightening. On one side, Ohio businesses that fear their products will lose relevance under LEED v4 have lined up to support the resolution. On the other side, environmental groups have opposed the legislation on the grounds that the legislature is overstepping its traditional boundaries, and that legislative meddling will only stifle innovation in the green energy space.
The number of LEED certified buildings in Ohio is rapidly growing; therefore, LEED v4 may seriously impact a company’s bottom line. While SCR 25 does not carry with it the force of law, its introduction and potential passage raises several relevant and interesting questions:
- What is the impact with the USGBC and LEED on Ohio materials and products?
- What is the proper role of the legislature in determining building codes and standards?
- At what point do business interests and concerns trump environmental and green energy interests?
- What obligation, if any, do state agencies have to heed SCR 25?
- What does the future hold for LEED and other green building codes if legislative attacks continue?
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