In response to an act of the Maryland legislature in 2018, the state is proposing a watershed revamp of its current mandatory green building requirements for new public school buildings.
The public is being invited to comment on the proposal.
Existing State Finance and Procurement Section 4-809(f) was amended adding new section (6), providing in relevant part,
the Maryland Green Building Council shall: .. (6) Develop guidelines for new public school buildings to achieve the equivalent of the current version of .. LEED Silver rating or a comparable rating system or building code .. without requiring an independent certification that the buildings have achieved the required standards.”
The crux of the new statute is that new public school buildings (from pre k through 12 to university dormitories and community college classrooms) need no longer be third party certified as a green building such as LEED, Green Globes or the like.
Note, there is another compliance path where building could be built to comply with the 2012 International Green Construction Code, (however, no public buildings in Maryland have ever accomplished that alternative compliance path because it is suggested as amended by the state that green code is unbuildable, but that will be remedied by what is proposed here when local government adopted versions of the IgCC may be utilized for new public school building in that local jurisdiction).
The Maryland Green Building Council, a government body not affiliated with the USGBC, sought input over the past year in implementing the law from the public and stakeholders, including input from local education agencies responsible for most school construction in the state.
The Maryland Green Building Council is proposing “guidelines” that creatively provide 3 alternative means by which an agency erecting such a new public school building may comply with State Finance and Procurement Section 4-809(f)(6):
- The Maryland Green Building Council finds that third party certification of high performance building is the ideal and advantageous in most, if not all, instances. New public school buildings pursuing third party certification (e.g., LEED Silver Certification by Green Business Certification Inc.) is preferable and should be given a priority and otherwise advantaged over those buildings not pursuing such a certification.
- Or in the alternative, the Maryland Green Building Council finds a third party opinion (i.e., by an appropriate professional such as an architect, engineer, green building consultant, attorney, etc.) that a high performance building is certifiable under an appropriate green building rating system, is desirable and in compliance with this law.
- Or in the alternative, that new public school building is designed and constructed to any of the following green building standards, rating systems or codes (without requiring an independent certification that the building has achieved the required standard), is suitable and in compliance with this law.
In a modernization from what once was a LEED only system, the Maryland Green Building Council is pushing green building forward with a transformation to a current version of any of:
Green Globes Two Globes
National Green Building Standard – ICC 700 Silver level
International Green Construction Code
Living Building Challenge
Collaborative for High Performance Schools CHPS Criteria
FITWELL Two Stars
WELL Building Standard
However, it is not clear that all of those standards will be part of the finally approved guidelines. But by now utilizing “an appropriate and current version” of each, this proposal seeks to transform a now out of date (.. and thus not currently possible to comply with) Maryland regulatory program, making it current, including LEED version 2020 ready.
To those knowledgeable it is déjà vu all over again, where Maryland’s 2004 green building enactment only mandated that public funded building be “certifiable,” not certified while also contemplating the use of multiple green building systems.
Recognizing that no two buildings are homogenized, two different waivers processes are proposed; one for pre K thru 12 school building and the other for all other public school building.
While no agency or group will likely oppose implementation of these already widely vetted guidelines, there are no doubt individual ecco zealots who will find fault (.. with anything as not being green enough) or small minded Luddites resisting progress in high performance building, and risk killing the goose that laid the Golden eggs such that without the implementing guidelines required by the legislature, Maryland will have no enforceable public building green building law.
Despite that the law does not require action by other than the Maryland Green Building Council, (.. appreciate that with hundreds of Millions of dollars of new public school building, annually, politics weighs heavily and this legislation was vetoed by the Governor which veto was overridden by the legislature), the assistant Attorney General assigned to the Department of General Services opined that approval by the Secretaries of General Services and Budget & Management is required.
The complete draft proposal is here. Although the final version will likely be narrower in scope and breadth.
Comments are being accepted online through June 18, 2019 at https://forms.gle/T3Umpmm4gAF74FBo8. Or you can comment in person at a public meeting of the Maryland Green Building Council on June 19 at 10:00 a.m., after which the public body vote in open session on a final version of the guidelines and will seek approval, by the two Secretaries, of those mandatory guidelines that will be foundation of future high performance building in the state and a guidepost for the nation.