On Thursday, I had the honor of presenting on green building legal issues to the Texas Young Lawyers Association. I graduated from the University of Texas School of Law, so it was surreal to be invited back for the opportunity to speak on the law.
Whenever I speak, I leave time for questions and this time I received a new question, something no one had ever asked me. During my presentations, I often review the government trend in support of green building regulations. Thanks to the United States Green Building Council for providing these helpful statistics:
"Various LEED initiatives including legislation, executive orders, resolutions, ordinances, policies, and initiatives are found in 45 states, including 202 localities (138 cities, 36 counties, and 28 towns), 34 state governments (including the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico), 14 federal agencies or departments, 17 public school jurisdictions, and 41 institutions of higher education across the United States."
After my presentation, one of the audience members asked the following question:
"With all of these green building regulations that add costs to construction, why won’t corporations build overseas in China?" After thinking about the question and doing some research, here is my response:
Multinational corporations investing in China are building green voluntarily:
"While the government seems to be driving energy efficiency initiatives in public buildings, local developers and companies are lagging behind. However, multinational companies have taken the lead to promote green buildings in China by pursuing more stringent LEED certification. . . . In fact, multinational companies, driven by their global corporate responsibility policies, have built eight of the total 15 LEED certified buildings in China so far. . . .
‘At this point, the Chinese companies don’t feel the same sort of pressure to demonstrate corporate social responsibility that the multinational companies feel,’ says Geoffrey Lewis, a Fulbright Fellow at Tsinghua University’s Department of Building Sciences who closely monitors China’s green building progress."