Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Ohio Senators Cut Down LEED v4
The Ohio legislature in February sent a clear message to LEED v4 green building standards: "Not for us."
The state Senate passed a concurrent resolution that encouraged state agencies to no longer use the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED standards and instead opt for alternatives utilizing the American National Standards Institute.
The resolution specifically mentions LEED version four, which is the most recent release and was unveiled this fall.
From the text of the resolution:
"RESOLVED, that the use of green building rating systems, codes, and other standards that have been developed pursuant to ANSI procedures be presumptively deemed to be open, transparent, and voluntary consensus standards suitable for Ohio government use; and be it further
"RESOLVED, that the LEED v4 green building rating system no longer be used by Ohio's state agencies and government entities until the USGBC conforms its system development to the ANSI voluntary consensus standard procedures… or until the state, after an opportunity for public comment and participation, incorporates the LEED v4 system…."
The resolution still needs to be voted on by the Ohio Assembly. Resolutions are legally non-binding, and state agencies face no legal repercussions for noncompliance. However, considering their budget comes from the legislature, most state agencies do take resolutions seriously.
The Ohio Facilities Construction Commission Green School program has been pursuing LEED Silver certification in its building projects since 2007. Ohio has more LEED registered and certified schools than any other state, according to a January 2013 report from the USGBC.
This December, the USGBC held a ceremony in the Ohio Statehouse atrium to commemorate the 100th Ohio school building to receive LEED certification.
Although too early to speculate what effect the resolution may have on the OFCC's program, spokesperson Rick Savors said the resolution might not apply because the OFCC uses LEED v3.
The OFCC, and other agencies that use LEED v3, will be able to continue register projects for LEED v3 certification until June 15, 2015, USGBC media specialist Jacob Kriss said.
Only after that date will new projects be required to fulfill LEED v4 standards.
Ohio's rebuff to LEED v4 comes after a number of states have made legally enforceable roadblocks to any version of LEED green building standards, citing the USGBC's decision to limit LEED designations to projects that use forest products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.
Maine Gov. Paul LePage signed an executive order in 2011 that disallowed state buildings to incorporate green building standards that didn't include forest products certified by other entities.
The order said other certification bodies—specifically the Sustainable Forestry Initiative Standard, American Tree Farm System and Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification systems—deserved recognition as well.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal also signed an executive order in 2012 that stated the issue plainly: "The U.S. Green Building Council's LEED rating system unfairly awards its certification credits only to products certified to the Forest Stewardship Council standard…."
Jason Metnick, vice president of customer affairs with the LEED-ignored forest product certification agency Sustainable Forest Initiative, wrote a blog post on his organization's blog this summer that questioned the continued exclusion of SFI from the LEED system.
“Since 2005, SFI certified-products have been excluded from the forest certification/sourcing credit without ever once having been told the basis of that exclusion … we encourage the USGBC leadership to clarify why FSC meets their credit expectations and why SFI’s certification standard does not.”