In continuing our week of epiphanies, here’s another one that struck us here at Green Building Law Update: should governments consider getting out of the green building certification process?
Yes, I realize this epiphany is out there and that practically every state has implemented some sort of green building regulation. Over the past few months, we have profiled green building regulations in D.C., Virginia, Indiana and Maryland, to name a few. But the more I think about these regulations, the more I become concerned that governments should not mandate certification, particularly of public projects.
Apparently, I am not the only one with these concerns. For example, this article cites an Evanston, Illinois official that is concerned with certification cost:
At the meeting, Evanston residents spoke about the Green Building Ordinance, which was drafted by the Evanston Environment Board. . . . Ald. Lionel Jean-Baptiste (2nd) cited the need to look closer at the cost of the ordinance.
"It's difficult in this current economic climate for anyone to build," he said. "We need to look more into the cost, and have greater discussion at the committee level."
And here is another example, this time a LaCrosse, Wisconsin official voicing concern over the costs for green building certification:
“When I think about all this discussion about certification and not certification, I think we’re going to do all this good stuff so let’s just declare it a green building and go home,” Supervisor John Medinger said during the Law Enforcement Center Construction Committee meeting this week. “We say it’s a green building. Who says it isn’t? I don’t mean to diminish this, but I’m trying to see what we’re going to get with this $161,000.”
With the state facing a $3 billion shortfall, Medinger said the county will take a hit and can’t afford to spend money that brings no return.
These officials represent a minority view that government’s should not mandate green building certification due to the associated costs. But Mr. Medinger drives home the point: what are governments getting out of certification?
Green building certification is primarily a marketing tool used to sell a building. Green building strategies can most definitely be incorporated without obtaining certification and the results can still be confirmed through commissioning. What benefits are cities and states getting when their public buildings are deemed certified?
- Cost concerns may clash with green ordinance draft (Daily Northwestern)
- Several commissioners object to price tag for LEED certification (LaCrosse Tribune)
- Can state budgets support green building? (GBLU)