The most cynical lawyers say that the best client is angry, rich, and wrong.
While that sad truth sinks in, one can’t help but wonder if the Ohio senators who introduced Concurrent Resolution 25 (SCR25), the pending legislation urging that LEED be banned in Ohio, see how well this description fits the special interest groups who influenced them to do so.
Ohio is #1 in the U.S. in green school construction, prudently investing tax dollars in buildings that are designed to be 35% more efficient and use 37% less water than buildings built to previous standards and diverted over 188,000 tons of construction waste from landfills, thanks to state policy for new public school buildings to earn minimum LEED silver certification.
Enter a small but well-funded faction of protectionists who complain that the latest evolution of LEED, called “v4,” puts them at a competitive disadvantage. This faction of vinyl, plastic, chemical, and other carbon-intensive industries, is angry, rich, and dead wrong.
They are so angry that they are pushing legislation to ban LEED v4 in Ohio without offering any better alternative. Following recitals that whisper sweet nothings about jobs and green building rating systems, SCR25 delivers its punch line, “RESOLVED: That the LEED v4 green building rating system no longer be used by Ohio’s state agencies and government entities…”
LEED hasn’t been good for Ohio. It’s been great for Ohio. In addition to those energy and water savings, and diversion of waste from landfills, Ohio’s green schools have obtained 35% of material from regional sources, benefitting the local economy while curbing transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions. Yesterday a diverse group of sustainability-minded professionals, and one inspired and inspiring high school student, delivered powerful testimony against SCR25.
But this faction of protectionists is angry with LEED v4, and they’re rich. So rich that they could afford to hire one of Ohio’s leading influence-peddlers to curry favor with well-placed senators who are championing their cause through SCR25.
So why is this faction so angry, and what makes them so wrong? They complain that LEED v4 creates a “blacklist” of certain products that unfairly discriminates against their stuff. Only problem: The blacklist doesn’t exist. Strike one.
They complain that LEED v4 doesn’t meet “American National Standards Institute voluntary consensus standard procedures.” Only problem: An independent, multi-year study commissioned by the United States General Services Administration and prepared by division of Battelle, confirms that LEED is indeed a “consensus” standard:
They complain that their concerns weren’t heard during the LEED v4 development process. Only problems: Their own literature details their extensive input into LEED v4, which was approved only after an unprecedented six comment periods resulting in over 22,000 public comments, with 86% of overall membership in favor of adoption, including majority approval from each major stakeholder group (89% of producers/contractors/builders, 90% of users, and 77% in the general interest category of utilities, manufacturers and organizations). As I routinely explain to my daughters, there’s a big difference between not being heard and not getting your way … this is the latter. Strike three, you’re out.
This attack on LEED in Ohio is a tired rerun of the same industry attack against LEED at the federal level. In response to that study cited above, the GSA decided to keep LEED along with Green Globes as rating systems of choice. Yet Ohio stands poised to ban LEED v4 without conducting any independent investigation and solely at the behest of the angry, rich, and wrong.
LEED isn’t perfect. Some say it should be stricter, some say it should be more lax. But it is the consensus worldwide standard for making better buildings, and banning LEED v4 in Ohio at the whim of a small but powerful group of protectionist lobbies who offer no data to substantiate their scare tactics about jobs and economy would be a short-sighted and tragic mistake.
Ed: The views of his article are exclusively those of Ohio Green Building Law and this author, a member of the Board of Directors of the Central Ohio Chapter of USGBC