The Ohio House has introduced H.B. 7 which would require new construction be certified as a green building under the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED program. Here is the text of the bill:
Sec. 153.013. Whenever any building or structure is to be
erected or constructed using any state capital moneys, including moneys from the education facilities trust fund, the building or structure shall be certified as meeting at least the silver standard of the leadership in energy and environmental design green building rating system developed by the United States green building council.
What are the pro’s and con’s of advancing legislation requiring LEED certification?
- Good for the environment-the obvious…It encourages green building which reduces energy demand and is good for the environment.
- Prepares the State for a carbon constrained and regulated world- Ohio ranks either 3rd or 4th in emission of greenhouse gases. Commercial buildings, through energy use, constitute a significant portion of GHG emissions. Ohio definitely needs to show more leadership in preparing for mandatory GHG regulation.
- LEED is a well recognized third party verification system for green building- More than 100 State (including Washington and Connecticut) and local governments have incorporated some form of LEED mandates into legislation or ordinances.
- It picks a winner- Why pick LEED when there are other well recognized third-party greenbuilding verification systems, such as Green Globes?
- The LEED system is revised frequently, the law is not- In 2009 the LEED system went under a major overhaul. Ohio legislative principles do not allow incorporation of future changes to referenced standards. Therefore, to keep up with the latest revisions the Legislature would be forced to revise the legislation.
- LEED system was and is not perfect- The old version LEED 2.2 for New Construction awarded the same amount of points for putting in bike racks as it did if you redeveloped a contaminated brownfield. Also, Ohio may want to encourage certain practices more than others set forth in the LEED rating system.
Is Ohio delegating legislative authority? The LEED rating system is developed by the membership of the U.S. Green Building Coalition, not a State Agency. Therefore, Ohio would be passing along the authority to establish standards for new construction to a private entity that is not accountable to the public. When similar Legislation was introduced in California, the Sacramento Bee called it a "two-pronged assault on democratic process that not only bypasses the usual procedure for making new law, but also transfers the regulations authorized by the new law to a private organization that’s completely unaccountable to the public.” (See, Is LEED Legislation-whether Public or Private-Undemocratic)
There is growing controversy regarding legislative mandates for LEED. A recent study even suggested some LEED buildings are not performing at the level of energy efficiency promised. (See, Northeast Energy Sustainable Agency- "Legislating Greenness")
Henry Gifford has provided statistical proof, from US Green Building Council’s (USGBC) own data, showing that at least to date, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) buildings have on average proven to actually use more energy in their operation than comparable buildings.
I am currently studying for the LEED AP exam, so I have a strong investment and belief in the USGBC rating system. However, I am not sure an outright mandate of a specific rating system is the way to go.
Why not just specify in legislation that all government buildings must meet a level of greenbuilding certification specified by the Department of Administrative Services (or some other state Agency)? This would allow a more fluid process where DAS could adjust requirements to meet changes in the third party verification process.
(Photo: Payton Chung/everystockphoto.com)