3 Reasons Why Your Green Building Regulation is a Problem

On Wednesday, I posited that codifying the LEED rating system, or any other third party green building rating system, is not a viable option for an entire state.  

Why?  Here are three primary considerations:  

1.  There are troubling antitrust issues associated with the LEED rating system.  These antitrust issues are significantly exacerbated by the incorporation of LEED into regulations or building codes.

2.  The LEED rating system was never intended to be codified.  In fact, the LEED rating system is meant to apply to only 25 percent of new construction starts

3.  I believe the USGBC has recognized the problems associated with codification of the LEED rating system.  In response, the USGBC, along with other groups, is quickly pushing along publication of ASHRAE 189.1P, which codifies many of the elements of the LEED rating system.  This is just a hunch, but I anticipate that the USGBC will start urging jurisdictions to adopt ASHRAE 189.1P instead of the LEED rating system.

Can you think of any other reasons?    

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Comments (5) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
elaine - January 22, 2010 12:39 PM

Yes, your hunch is correct. ASHRAE/USGBC/IES Std 189.1 for High-Performance Green Buildings is written in easily adoptable code language and is intended for codification. As far as I understand, USGBC would like to see 189.1 as the minimum baseline by which to measure LEED in the near future.

If interested in learning more about the standard, a great presentation by the Chair of the committee is here: http://bit.ly/5W3ZpJ

Jim Broughton - January 22, 2010 12:51 PM

I disagree stongly.

Just because LEED wasn't intended to be codified, if true, it doesn't mean it can't be. USGBC is very shrewd in aligning with ASHRA, IESNA and others to broaden acceptance of LEED as a standard. Afterall, LEED is created in much the same way as other industry standards, by member consensus. This does not make codification a "problem." LEED does not call for the use of any specific product whatsoever. As such, it cannot provide competitive advantage any more than any other product that meets other building codes or LEED.

If there are anti-trust issues with LEED becoming codified, there are the same problems with every buliding code adopted from industry standards -- as virtually all codes are. Should we do away with building codes?

It is true that USGBC is targeting the top tier of new and existing buildings. This fact does not preclude green building practices from being codified. In fact the opposite is true. By focusing on the higher end tier of buildings. the LEED green "standard" has been adopted more quickly. Now, because broader knowledge about green building practices exists, the private and public sector is in a position of strength to begin adopting green into building codes.

The world and the US cannot afford to not be aggressive in codifying green building practices for many reasons. Foremost is energy waste and green house gas emissions. In the US, buildings produce about 40% of each. Secondly, waste, particularly energy waste, is overhead to every tenant and business. Other countries are adopting green much faster than the US. For this reason. non-green buildings put the US in a competitive disadvantage.

Chris Cheatham - January 22, 2010 1:39 PM

Jim - Thanks for the comment. I actually think the reason USGBC has aligned itself with ASHRAE is to create a green building code that is similar to the LEED rating system. See Elaine's comment above.

Can you come up with an example where a building code only permitted a certain type of certified product? I have tried to come up with an example before but nothing came to mind.

I agree that codifying green building practices that focus on energy is the way to go. Do you think we should create building codes that just focus on energy useage?

Timothy R. Hughes - January 23, 2010 1:50 PM

I think USGBC will always purposefully reposition LEED to be pushing change whereas codes set the minimum baseline. Look for 189.1 to come in as baseline and LEED to ratchet up.

Anymouse - January 24, 2010 7:34 PM

How is ASHRAE 189 going to match up against ICC's Green Codes? Since DC follows ICC, does that make it more likely that ICC Green will be adopted, rather than ASHRAE? Has anyone done comparison analysis between the two?

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