New US coalition to push for science–based green building code

18 July 2012 19:58  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Trade organisations involved in the US building sector announced on Wednesday a coalition to push for science–based “green” building standards that include more input by those groups.

The coalition was formed in reaction to green building requirements now under consideration by the US General Services Administration (GSA).

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) complained that government endorsement of a single standard could restrict use of man chemicals and resins. The trade group said such requirements should have more input by the affected industries.

Twenty-seven organisations, including the ACC, make up the new American High-Performance Building Coalition (AHPBC), which says its goal is “to promote and support the development of sustainable building standards, which are based on consensus and scientific performance data”.

In a conference call with reporters, Steve Russell, the ACC’s vice-president of plastics, said the US Green Building Council (USGBC) did not pay enough attention to the input from his organisation and others in the development of its newest version of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), the foremost green building code used in the US.

Specifically, Russell and the other representatives said, the newest version of LEED would “deselect” scores of chemicals used in construction materials, including roof shingles and insulation, in its rating points system. The majority of these substances actually achieve the energy efficiency that the LEED system was originally meant to promote, they said.

The new coalition was formed in the wake of a controversy in which many of its member organizations opposed the proposed adoption by the federal General Services Administration (GSA), which owns and operates most of the federal government’s buildings across the country, of the newest version of LEED, originally called LEED 2012.

When several lawmakers objected, the USGBC put off final adoption of the new LEED version, which it has since rebranded LEED v4. The building groups and the lawmakers said the GSA was promoting a “monopoly” green building standard for the country.

The USGBC has since delayed a final vote among its member organisations on LEED v4 until next year, saying it wants to receive more feedback from stakeholders, including industry groups.

Russell and the other representatives said the new coalition’s members support the use of building standards that promote energy efficiency.

“Our coalition members believe those systems would benefit from enhanced technical expertise,” Russell said, that would lead to codes that were “data-driven and science-based”.

Groups that promulgate such codes should work to include the perspectives of all stakeholders, including industry, Russell said.

Other members of the coalition include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy, the National Association of Manufacturers, the Vinyl Institute, the Adhesive and Sealant Council, and the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM).

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By: Ken Fountain

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