Urgent Call to Action: Special interests groups are mounting a duplicitous effort to ban the federal government from using LEED
Groups seeking to unduly influence LEED and diminish the progress of green building are spending millions to lobby lawmakers to have LEED banned at the federal level. They are spreading misinformation about the LEED development process and saying that only ANSI certified standards should be used by the federal government. If we don’t act quickly and decisively to refute these false claims, our efforts of market transformation could be setback by single-interest trade associations. Don’t let special interests advance unprecedented greenwashing efforts that will cost taxpayers money and hurt the green building movement.
TALKING POINTS -
LEED Satisfies All Consensus Requirements of the Federal Government
- As defined by the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act (NTTAA) and OMB Circular A‐119, PNNL found that LEED is a voluntary consensus‐based standard. This means that LEED has been determined to have the following characteristics: openness, balance of interests, due process, an appeal process, and consensus.
- LEED is developed using the most open and transparent consensus‐driven process of any building rating system used by the federal government. LEED is private, voluntary, and democratic.
- The formula underlying LEED’s 100‐point rating system is developed in an open, consensus‐based process among stakeholders and technical experts. Any revisions to the LEED standard must be approved through a democratic balloting process open to all 12,000 USGBC members.
- Technical committees of practitioners and subject matter experts develop and maintain the LEED credit categories and work to draft changes to the rating system. Subject matter experts contributed 12,000 hours in FY 2012 to improve LEED credits.
- LEED is extremely inclusive in its consensus‐based decision‐making. After the draft is released for public comment, it is open to all stakeholders, regardless of their affiliation with USGBC. These comments are collected and responded to individually and publicly. To date, the most recent version of LEED has had six public comment periods and received more than 22,000 comments from stakeholders across all sectors of the green building industry.
- Once the comment process is complete, the draft is subject to a ballot of participating members. To be accepted as a new version of LEED, the draft must receive and overwhelming consensus: ‘yes’ votes from 66 percent of the voting members. In addition, the draft must be approved by more than 50 percent in subcategories designed to ensure no stakeholder groups are given special weight or excluded.
- The contents of LEED are available to the public at no charge, unlike other rating systems or standards that charge a price for access.
ANSI is One Way to Achieve Consensus, Not the Only Way
- ANSI is a valuable process through which large groups can attain consensus. But it is not the only legitimate and workable process. The LEED rating system consensus process is a useful and proven mechanism for helping large and diverse groups agree to standards.
- There is no reason beyond political favoritism to deviate from the private sector’s green building certification of choice, LEED.
- The well‐regarded iCodes, which are used in 50 states and by federal agencies to meet minimum health and safety standards for construction, electrical wiring and plumbing, do not use ANSI to define or achieve consensus.
- LEED allows all of its 12,000 members to vote on standard changes, a truly democratic process. ANSI explicitly does not require all affected members to vote, but relies on a group of representatives, often fewer than thirty persons, to vote.
- The LEED rating system has been a very successful, flexible system that allows the market to drive change. It has proven to be a nimble process that is conducive to the pace of innovation and ever changing market concerns, as opposed to other standards development process that are not designed for this tempo.
- Every aspect of the construction, real estate, and building industry is represented in LEED, among others who represent environmental and health interests. This includes (but is not limited to) architecture, engineering, construction, manufacturing, financial services, real estate, non‐profits, and academics. No one segment of the marketplace is given special weight or excluded. No other rating system represents such diverse interests
Government Intervention in LEED is a Mistake and would Increase Costs
- LEED provides financial benefits to building owners, operators and some of America’s most admired companies. To date more than 16,000 commercial projects are LEED‐certified in every state and in 130 countries, representing over 2.4 billion square feet of space. The economic benefits and market driven brand value would be jeopardized if single interests were allowed to improperly influence LEED’s consensus‐driven technical review process.
- The private and public markets should pick the best tool to reduce utility bills. The economic value of LEED would be diminished if Congress were to intervene.
- In a letter to GSA in July of 2012, more than 1,260 companies from the green building industry opposed deviating from LEED in federal facilities because such a change would “add cost to the building and leasing process across the building industry.”
- Like the private sector, the federal government has been successfully using LEED to reduce utility bills and environmental impacts. For example, the U.S. Treasury building recently achieved LEED certification during its extensive retrofit and is saving taxpayers $3.5 million each year.
- A post‐occupancy review of the General Services Administration (GSA) found that LEED Gold buildings have a 27 percent reduction in energy use and 19 percent lower operating costs. These are results that should be expanded and embraced by the federal government.
- Changing the existing federal requirements sets a dangerous precedent that has implications for a countless group of industries involved in standards development, and sends a chilling message to private sector leaders and successful private sector innovation that the federal government is closed for business and Congress is picking winners.