The LEED green building certification system has been under attack for a number of years, at first because of its recognition of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and more recently (and far more potently) by the chemical and plastics industries, over worries that LEED might list their products as "Chemicals of Concern." The opponents of LEED have had a great run, banning LEED in a number of states, and getting an alternative certification system, Green Globes, accepted by the Federal Government.
Treehugger has followed Green Globes and the Green Building Initiative for a number of years, noting how it was started by a lumber company PR executive and run out of his Portland office and how its board is a who's who of the lumber and plastics industry. Last year the GBI separated themselves from its founder, moved offices and in January, hired "the godfather of green building", Jerry Yudelson, as its new President. Jerry told Paula Melton of LEEDuser that "It's a new beginning, We pushed the reset button." he continued:
"My goal is to be in the marketplace with a good product, a good approach, and to get more people to do green building, I don’t really see us getting engaged in anti-LEED activity as an organization"
But the anti-LEED activity is continuing as strongly as ever. Recently a new "organization" joined the fray, LEED Exposed, which accuses LEED of "wasting taxpayer's money to fund not-so-green buildings. It's backers also have another site, Big Green Radicals that attacks the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, NRDC and other environmental activists groups. This may have been a step too far, because those groups are now fighting back.
Greenwash Action was just launched by the Sierra Club and Greenpeace, two orgs directly targeted by the Environmental Policy Alliance that is also attacking LEED. It is a" a non-profit dedicated to eliminating confusion in the green building marketplace, launched today. The mission of Greenwash Action is to support progress toward a healthy, biodiverse, climate-stable world by defending programs that represent true environmental leadership and challenging special interests that use greenwash to hinder change." From the press release:
“Greenwash Action is addressing a pressing need in the green building industry,” said Jason Grant, Executive Director, Greenwash Action. “True environmental leadership programs have transformed markets... but these leadership programs are now under serious threat from greenwash standards and the special interests behind them. These groups are smearing the leadership standards through media attacks and seeking to get them banned for use by state and federal governments.”
Their first initiative is to go after the Green Building Initiative, and to get them to call off their attack on LEED. Jerry Yudelson says there is room for both, and perhaps there is. But these attacks help neither organization. Jason Grant:
We are committed to fighting greenwashing, but we are not fighting for fighting’s sake. Our overarching message is that we are all running out of time in the race to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and avoid runaway, catastrophic climate change. We are calling on the GBI to tell the truth about Green Globes and cease their attacks on true leaderships standards like LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) – so that we can all call a truce and redirect the energy and resources that we are currently devoting to negative competition and instead seek common ground to tackle the urgent problems that we all face.
This will be an uphill struggle; I wish Greenwash action had a larger backing than just Greenpeace and the Sierra Club, who will be immediately labelled as lefty treehuggers. But somebody has to do this.
Read the whole closer look at Green Globes PDF here, and see an excellent timeline in A brief history of corporate resistance to the green building movement. More at Greenwashaction.org