Last week I was talking about the upcoming EPA regulations on formaldehyde and noted that we need to "let the government know what is practical."

Well, here is another opportunity. The U.S. government is now reviewing its policy on having LEED be the only recognized green building program for federal construction. I think it would be great if they were to open up the system to other programs.

The the full posting of the announcement is here and many more details on the process and the systems under review can be found here. To save you time hunting for the contact info, comments may be submitted by one of the following methods:

  • Visit www.regulations.gov and search for "Notice-MG-2012-04"
  • Fax your comments to (202) 501-4067
  • Email your comments to bryan.steverson@gsa.gov
  • Mail them to: General Services Administration, Regulatory Secretariat (MVCB), Attn: Hada Flowers, 1275 First St. N.E., 7th Floor, Washington, DC 20417
The federal government is the single largest user of the LEED rating system, so this is an important issue. I'd encourage you to read this short article about some of the general concerns of this LEED-only policy, and this longer article in USA Today which explores the close connection between LEED and the government. Among other things, it notes that:
  • More than 200 states, cities and federal agencies now require LEED certification for new public buildings
  • About 26% of LEED-certified buildings are government-owned.
  • Roughly 170 cities give LEED builders tax breaks, grants, expedited permitting or waivers allowing them to construct larger buildings than local law allows.
  • Roughly 2,000 developments, buildings and homes have received $500 million in tax breaks nationwide.
I am not anti-LEED, but I do find it largely unfriendly to the wood industry. Not only does it restrict offering resource credit opportunities to only FSC-certified wood, but small changes in the latest version have resulted in heavily restricting the use of non-certified engineered flooring within the "indoor air quality" category (something I'll be getting into more this year). And for me, having options is a very important, and I would encourage everyone to encourage the government to open up the system to more program options.

Elizabeth Baldwin has over 20 years of international wood sourcing experience. Very widely traveled, her résumé's "Special Skills" section includes "the ability to eat anything from raw horse to deep-fried scorpion." She serves as Metropolitan Hardwood Flooring's (metrofloors.com) ECO (Environmental Compliance Officer) and deals daily with the "green alphabet soup" of today's industry: FSC, CARB, LEED, and much more. She blogs for Hardwood Floors on all things green (and, as she says, " 'grey' and 'blue' and almost every color except 'black and white.' Nothing in this world is black and white, particularly not 'green issues.'")