We at CFIF have filed an official public comment with the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), opposing imposition of an economically-destructive and scientifically-dubious monopolistic LEED certification standard:
On behalf of 300,000 supporters and activists throughout the nation, the Center for Individual Freedom (CFIF) respectfully but firmly exhorts the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) against monopolistic LEED certification standards, including many of its proposed LEED v4 standards, that rely on biased and scientifically-dubious policies, raise prices, reduce consumer choice, cost American jobs and harm domestic industry in favor of overseas competitors. American consumers and businesses are entitled to make informed choices, and to act upon them in purchasing decisions. Free and open certification processes that allow businesses to choose the system that best fits their profile, and allows consumers choice in the marketplace, will increase ‘green’ products available in consumer and building markets.”
As we point out, environmental ideologues seek to impose a Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification monopoly. As part of that campaign, they’ve pressured Fortune 500 companies, as well as federal, state and municipal governments to satisfy their agenda. As a consequence, the market has become increasingly distorted, with real costs for domestic producers of wood products and fewer affordable choices for consumers, but no measurable environmental benefit. That policy also penalizes businesses that invested in alternative certification systems; favors foreign competitors in places like Russia, China and Brazil; discourages use of common building materials and products regularly found in construction projects like PVC piping, foam insulation, heat-reflective roofing and LED lighting; and jeopardizes American jobs, which explains why the International Association of Machinists and other unions whose rank-and-file members’ jobs are at risk favor recognition of other certifications than solely FSC to ensure the viability of tree farms in rural communities.
Fortunately, many in Congress agree with CFIF. A bipartisan group of 74 legislators wrote the GSA and objected to the proposed changes. Another letter from 56 members of the House to GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini objected to the changes, and stated the agency should reconsider the USGBC’s LEED rating system should the proposed changes occur. In addition, at a July 19 House Government and Oversight Committee hearing, Congressional leaders raised concerns over the restrictive and arbitrary LEED process and the high costs the proposed changes will impose on American manufacturing and other sectors vital to U.S. economic recovery.
Additionally, a new USA Today special report found little link between “green buildings” and learning or energy use:
The green-school boom, a powerful and often costly phenomenon, is being driven largely by the Green Building Council, whose promise of student improvement and long-term cost savings has support from environmental and health advocates, teachers unions, school designers and the Department of Education. … But a USA TODAY review of school-test records, LEED-certification documents and research reports shows little correlation between “green schools” and student performance or energy use.”
Although the objective of constructing more energy-efficient buildings may be a laudable goal, the closed process by which LEED standards are determined exacerbates the potential adverse economic effects listed above. Meanwhile, other, alternative green building ratings systems place greater reliance on data, science and a consensus from various stakeholders. Therefore, the better policy is to encourage sustainable development by recognizing all credible certification program options.