Green Building (Including LEED-Centric) Laws Spread Over Seas

Mandatory green building laws are spreading internationally from the Philippines to India.

With more than 11 billion square feet across 175,000 projects being LEED certified worldwide, it should not be surprising that most of those new green building laws are LEED centric. At year end 2012, more than 40% of all square footage pursuing LEED certification existed outside the U.S. and when 2013 ends the international use of LEED will have grown tremendously. 

The international growth of LEED presents huge business opportunities when today there are LEED projects in 142 countries and USGBC member companies in 86 countries, from Brunei to Israel and from Mauritius to Mongolia.

Last week, in the Philippines, the Department of Justice authorized the Department of Public Works and Highways to move forward adopting a green building regulation in the National Building Code of the Philippines. In a 9 page legal opinion made public last Wednesday, Justice Secretary Leila De Lima determined the Department has the authority to expand the scope of the existing Building Code to include “eco-friendly” green building regulation “to respond to the needs of changing times.” Additionally, beyond amending the Building Code, the opinion said the Department could also, under “the doctrine of necessary implications” craft a separate code to be known as the Green Building Code to hasten the adoption of mandatory green building regulation.

Appreciate that the opinion sought the Department of Justice’s advice on whether the code would be legally binding or “simply provide for guidelines to professionals concerned on the proper performance of their works.” And the opinion responds that by its express language compliance with the new green building regulation could be made mandatory or directory.

The draft Philippine green building measure would make mandatory that new building meet LEED certifiable minimums for energy and water use.

Last week in India, in Andhra Pradesh, the 4th largest state, an energy efficiency and green building code was signed by the Chief Minister of the Law Department in advance of public notification that is the next step in code adoption.

And while not as far along, the Indian state of Tamil Nadu also announced last week that it had formed a steering committee to adopt a mandatory green building code. Both LEED and the Indian Green Building Council have been successful in advancing the already 1.65 billion square feet of green building in India, but given the great hue and cry to get energy under control, mandatory green building codes at the state level are expected to begin to appear in early 2014.

Mandatory green building laws, including those in the Philippines and India (as well as in the U.S.), requiring that government construction be green and even private sector construction be green, are controversial and fly in the face on the tenets of green building including perverting LEED, which exists as a "voluntary" third party green building rating system, by misapplying LEED as a mandatory code. 

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