Green building has been under attack on all fronts recently by the wood, plastic and fossil fuel industries, all of which have big bucks to spend in Washington. This week it seems that the USGBC and the green building industry are getting some traction in fighting back.
The US Green Building Council, which runs the LEED certification system has been under attack by the plastics and lumber industries. It looked back in February like LEED might be in real trouble with the General Services Administration (GSA) that runs government building programs. (See why the plastics industry is out to gut LEED here). But the USGBC got a break this week and writes in a press release:
The Green Building Advisory Committee established by the General Services Administration (GSA), officially recommended to GSA that the LEED green building certification system be used for all GSA buildings as the best measure of building efficiency. The committee also conveyed that LEED should be the primary way to show how agency buildings use energy and water and that LEED standards are the most conducive to meet the Energy Independence and Security Act.
The plastic people are shocked and appalled. According to Federal News Radio:
William Hall, an attorney with Venable representing the Resilient Floor Covering Institute, said choosing one standard creates a monopoly and that could lead to increased costs, less innovation and less flexibility. He said the Green Globe standard, which is used mainly by the travel and tourism industry, and LEED were comparable in performance across existing and new buildings, according to the GSA study. "Green Globe was developed closely with the ANSI process," Hall said. "There are questions whether LEED is built on consensus standards and is transparent."
He didn't mention that the Resilient Floor Covering Institute is on the board of the Green Globes standard. That's transparency. (More on the sham that is Green Globes here)
Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) under attack
The fossil fuel industry attack on green building isn't limited to LEED. Last year a congressman from Louisiana slipped an amendment into a funding bill that would roll back the requirements for government buildings to phase out the use of fossil fuels by 2030. Marin Pedersen of Metropolis looked at who was behind this:
According to E&E Daily (an organization that monitors energy policy on Capitol Hill), the American Gas Association and the Federal Performance Contracting Coalition (FPCC) have been lobbying congressional offices seeking the modification or repeal of Section 433. FPCC members include: Ameresco, Chevron, Constellation Energy Services, FPL Energy Services, Honeywell, Johnson Controls, Lockheed Martin, Noresco, Pepco Energy Services, Schneider-Electric, Siemens Government Services, Inc., and Trane/Ingersoll Rand.
Some of those companies, like Siemens, Johnson Controls and Shneider, make quite as show of being green; It's surprising that they signed on to this Issue Brief that is full of "facts".
It is not clear if these guys are part of this year's threat against the act in the Senate, but the American Institute of Architects isn't waiting around to find out. They have written a strong letter to the Committee in defence of the existing act and its timetable. It concludes:
Weakening or repealing federal building energy policies will dramatically harm the federal government’s
ability to design and build facilities that use less energy, save taxpayers money, and protect the environment. Therefore, we urge you to oppose efforts to weaken the energy consumption and GHG emission requirements of EISA Sec. 433(a) and other important energy-saving policies.
They also responded, point by point, to the previous fact sheet, calling them myths and responding with their side of the story.
Here is a strong law passed by a Republican president that has a long term goal of getting government buildings off fossil fuels by 2030. Of course it was too good to be true and is probably too good to last against the power of the fossils.