State of Maine Bans Use Of LEED In State Construction

Natural Resources Council of Maine /Screen capture

I have to give credit to Governor Paul Lepage of Maine; he has managed to bring everyone in the green building scene together for the first time in years.

Maine had a pretty good green building scene, thanks to rules that required new or expanded state-owned buildings to get Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certification. The Natural Resources Defense Council notes that the State had "a growing green building industry with 67 US Green Building Council member companies representing $5 billion in economic activity, and supporting over 450 LEED Accredited Professionals."

But the timber industry is big in Maine, and the majority of it doesn't meet the standards set by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), and therefore doesn't qualify for a point under LEED.

So, as the Sierra Club puts it,

On December 7, 2011, Maine’s governor, Paul LePage, gave an early Christmas present to his friends in the status quo timber industry, issuing an executive order banning the use of LEED in state construction because of its exclusive recognition of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) in its certified wood credit. The order requires the use of weaker green building standards -- themselves backed by Big Timber and other vested interests -- that recognize industry-driven forest certification schemes like the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) as equivalent to the more rigorous FSC.

According to the Bangor Daily News, "the move would allow the state’s forest products industry to be more competitive by getting “green” certification from other programs." But there are not any other green certification programs beside LEED that have much credibility.

Rumble In The Lumberyard: FSC Wins This Round/via

But there as been a salutary side effect to all of this; For a couple of years the USGBC has been under attack from ForestEthics, the Sierra Club and other environmental groups for its consideration of including other lumber certification programs for points in LEED. Now they realize that there is a common enemy and they have to stand together; The Sierra Club writes:

It is encouraging that environmental groups and USGBC are now standing shoulder to shoulder against attempts by the mainstream forest industry and its cronies to thwart leadership in green building and in forest management and conservation.

The issue is a lot bigger than SFI vs FSC and a stupid single point in LEED; it is a question of the survival of the green building movement, as it is rolled back by Republicans in Congress and by anti-green Tea Party controlled State governments. We all have to stand together shoulder to shoulder.

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Tags: Green Building | Maine | Tea

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