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Chemical Industry Works with Ohio Senators to Ban LEED Ratings on Government Buildings

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Ohio ranks first among states with LEED certified schools, but two legislators no longer want the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) to evaluate the efficiency of governmental buildings there.

The USGBC has announced a campaign and petition opposing Ohio Senate Concurrent Resolution 25 (SCR 25), which would prohibit the use of the LEED v4 green building rating system on public buildings in Ohio. Senators Joe Uecker (R-14) and Tim Schaffer (R-31) believe the state should suspend use of the LEED system until the USGBC adopts American National Standards Institute (ANSI) voluntary consensus procedures. 

The USGBC has shown no signs it will do that. Instead, the agency characterizes the resolution as one backed by the chemical industry "to end all green government building in Ohio." In addition to concerns about a lack of toxin control in Ohio schools, the USGBC charges that the resolution dismisses the investment various companies have made to develop efficient buildings around the state.

"Prior to the 2006 program when the statewide healthy, efficient school building program began, Ohio school facilities were graded amongst the poorest in the country," according to the USGBC. Now, there are 142 K-12 school and higher education projects in the state.

Graphic credit: U.S. Green Building Council

SCR 25, which was introduced Oct. 31, would authorize the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission to review other private green building rating systems. The resolution does not list how much the state spends for the certifications, but says the legislature should take "economic growth and long-term operating and maintenance costs into account" when selected another rating system. Publications like USA Today and The Oregonian have reported that some certifications can cost up to $35,000.

Still, the USGBC says the Ohio resolution was proposed with politics in mind.

"So why would Ohio step backward and ban LEED? Because an out-of-state consortium of chemical companies is upset that the latest version of LEED would make occupants aware of the chemical ingredients within their building materials," Tyler Steele, chairman of USGBC's Central Ohio Chapter, wrote in a letter to the Columbus Dispatch. "So they bent the ears of sympathetic legislators."

Last year, the American Chemistry Council helped form that consortium as a green building coalition that would replace the USGBC, Environment & Energy Daily reported. The USGBC feared an amendment to Senate Bill 761 to ban the General Services Administration from using LEED to gauge the efficiency of the nearly 10,000 federal buildings it manages.

Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), who introduced S.B. 761 with Sen. Rob Portman (D-OH), said she did not intend to have LEED replaced, but previously signed a letter expressing concerns about LEED. The bill has not been voted on by the Senate or House of Representatives, according to GovTracker.US.

Visit EcoWatch’s GREEN BUILDING page for more related news on this topic.

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