Defense Department Dumps LEED For Home-Brew Certification

Mark Barnes, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers/CC BY 2.0

Ever since President Bush ordered it, the Defense Department has been a leader in green building, going for LEED certification in over 49 projects. But today's Republicans don't like most things green, and particularly LEED as a result of the War in the Woods between SFI and FSC. Now the LEED-bashers have their biggest victory ever, as Chris Cheatham reports in Green Building Law Update:

On March 7, 2012, Dr. Dorothy Robyn, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Installations and Environment) made the following statements to the House Appropriations Committee (PDF) Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies:

In addition to retrofitting existing buildings, we are taking advantage of new construction to incorporate more energy-efficient designs, material and equipment into our inventory. In the past, all new construction projects were required to meet the LEED Silver or an equivalent standard and/or to comply with the five principles of High Performance Sustainable Buildings. This year my office will issue a new construction code for high-performance, sustainable buildings, which will govern all new construction, major renovations and leased space acquisition. This new code, based heavily on ASHRAE 189.1, will accelerate DoD’s move toward efficient, sustainable facilities that cost less to own and operate, leave a smaller environmental footprint and improve employee productivity.

Chris suggests that the results of this change will be devastating to the USGBC and LEED.

The repercussions of this announcement will be widespread.

For federal contractors, this is a game changer. The LEED AP credential will be less valuable. Past performance highlighting LEED certification will be less valuable, if not totally irrelevant. Construction firms will have to learn to build to ASHRAE 189.1 instead. ...

For the US Green Building Council, this could be a devastating blow. Can the USGBC and LEED survive without the support of the federal government? Because that is the new reality of green building policy.

It is hard to believe that this all comes back to wood, a minor component in the larger scheme of green building. But that was the source of the pressure on Congress to dump LEED, even though SFI President Kathy Abusow complained that I should "step back from the hyperbole." The crazier thing about this all is the USGBC is under attack for opening the door to SFI with its new transparency standard.

But whatever the origin, the result is the same: The end of consensus-based third party certification, the elevation to equivalence of industry-controlled or completely bogus certification systems, and general confusion all round.

Tags: Green Building

Best of TreeHugger