Monday, October 8, 2012

USGBC v. AHBC: a hazy future for LEED?

Modern Steel Construction magazine ran an article this month entitled "Green Mudslinging" describing the tensions between US Green Building Council (USGBC) and the American Chemistry Council (ACC).  The ACC is driving the American High-Performance Buildings Coalition (AHBC), which represents building product manufacturers, many of whom are being edged out of the green building game by LEED's discouragement of certain chemicals' use in building materials.

The issue is this:  should green building rating systems be determined by the green community or by building product manufacturers?

AHBC includes US Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers, American Architectural Manufacturers Association, Southern Forest Products Association, and many chemical / plastic / vinyl groups.  Their strategy appears to be to pressure the General Services Administration (USGBC's largest client) to drop LEED on the basis that it was not developed in accordance with an ANSI-based consensus process.

The article's author (a Vice President of the American Institute of Steel Construction, which publishes this magazine) suggests that the steel industry has decreased its environmental footprint by 60% while increasing its market share by 10 points by focusing on a triple bottom line approach similar to the one espoused by the USGBC.  He makes a good case for collaboration and consensus between all members of the building construction community, suggesting that since LEED is not going to go away, the rating system would be strengthened - not diminished - by adopting a consensus ANSI process.

May all involved heed this voice of reason!


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