Members of the US chemical industry have voiced their concern about proposed upgrades to LEED which they claim will have an unfair and adverse impact on business, and are lobbying Congress for the adoption of alternative green building standards.
The Washington-based US Green Building Council will vote this month on proposed upgrades to its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards. The updated building criteria, referred to as LEED 4, could include provisions for conferring greater credits on projects which refrain from the use of hazardous chemicals.
The American Chemistry Council and other industry groups oppose the introduction of the new rules, however, saying they will needlessly stigmatize the use of chemical materials in the construction industry, particularly given the huge influence of LEED criteria on building practices.
The Center for Environmental Innovation in Roofing, the American Chemistry Council and the US Chamber of Commerce have joined the 39-member American High-Performance Buildings Coalition and are now lobbying Congress to promote the use of other green standards by government agencies as alternatives to LEED when purchasing new facilities or embarking upon building projects.
Craig Silvertooth, president of the Center for Environmental Innovation in Roofing, says the new standards could effectively exclude chemicals such as titanium oxide from use by the building industry, which pose little threat to human health when properly employed.
“LEED has a powerful impact on what happens in the marketplace,” he said.
Dow Chemical, a member of the American Chemistry Council, says the proposed LEED 4 upgrades fail to “account for the actual exposure risk potential of the building product.”
While LEED is a voluntary set of green building standards, their widespread use by members of the construction industry seeking to establish their sustainability and efficiency credentials has made them hugely influential.
According to the Green Building Council 44 per cent of new buildings in the US obtained some form of LEED accreditation in 2012, up from only two per cent in 2005.