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Recently, 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 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 number of LEED certified buildings in Ohio is rapidly growing; therefore, LEED v4 may seriously impact a company’s bottom line. SCR 25 suggests that Ohio only use systems that are “developed in an open and transparent way” and “properly grounded in science that include the use of environmental and health criteria that are based on risk assessment methodology generally accepted by applicable disciplines.”

Click here to view SCR 25.

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.

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 USBGC 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?

If you are concerned about your company’s products and their interaction with LEED, or if you are interested in learning more about SCR 25 or LEED green building systems, please contact:

Michael L. Snyder
216.348.5754
msnyder@mcdonaldhopkins.com

Ann M. Hunt
216.348.5741
ahunt@mcdonaldhopkins.com

Joseph M. Muska
216-348-5751
jmuska@mcdonaldhopkins.com

Many of the attorneys in our Energy Group have spent more than a decade serving public utilities and/or oil and gas clients and therefore offer a unique perspective in understanding the legal issues currently presented in the energy industry. Our clients include public utilities, renewable energy companies, energy developers, the oil and gas industry, industrial companies and suppliers. Our Energy Practice has a multi-disciplinary approach to counseling our clients and covers litigation, governmental affairs, real estate law, environmental law, capital markets and other practice areas.  

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