New Kid on the Block: Building, Design Industry Groups Establish Buildings Coalition to Develop LEED Alternative

July 19th, 2012 | Category: Industry News

Several organizations have come together to form the American High-Performance Buildings Coalition (AHPBC), which intends “to unify leading building and construction industry parties to develop a fresh set of green building standards and implement these guidelines in federal, state and local governments.” The AHPBC consists of 27 industry organizations, which also backed the delay of the 2012 LEED rating system after speaking out against the LEED revisions last month.

According to the AHPBC, in June 2012, the organization released a joint statement along with the other organizations, including the Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA), the National Association of Manufacturers  and the Adhesive and Sealant Council – to name a few. In the statement, the AHPBC said it saw the delay of the 2012 LEED standards as a “positive step toward improving the LEED process.”

“However, the group vows to continue its push for much needed improvements at [the] U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC),” writes the group. Additionally, AHPBC says it will work in accordance with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

“USGBC has made the right decision to delay the balloting of LEED v4. It should be the first step of many to correct serious problems that remain in the process for developing LEED. This additional time should be used to open the LEED decision-making process and allow for a true consensus-based approach leading to an actual ANSI standard. We hope that over the next year, USGBC will welcome input from a broader array of material suppliers and incorporate building science into the LEED credit system. We are prepared to work with USGBC to help develop high-performance building standards rooted in science that will promote life cycle approaches and advance energy efficiency and sustainability,” the organizations wrote in the statement.

According to the AHPBC, shortly after its joint statement was issued, group members spoke out again days later at a U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) listening session held in Washington, D.C., at the GSA headquarters on June 25. The GSA was joined with the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of Energy to receive commentary from industry members on the agency’s review of green building rating systems.

“GSA should endorse only green building certification systems that are developed through fully open, balanced, consensus-based processes,” said Richard Doyle, president and CEO of the Vinyl Institute. “We believe the process for the development of LEED is flawed: the actual credit development phase is not open, transparent, or available for participation to all interested stakeholders. Without the changes that are needed to give LEED more daylight, GSA should not endorse LEED as part of its recommended federal green building certification system.”

During the GSA listening session, industry members also discussed the disadvantages of having only one green building rating system.

“We believe that the government should support the use of true consensus standards for any public green building initiative. [The] National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) strongly believes that no one private system should be favored. The recent GSA review only examined three rating systems – two of which are not certified as consensus-based standards, and none of which are residential standards,” said Billie Kaumaya, federal legislative director at NAHB.

According to the AHPBC, the organizations intend to “promote and support the development of sustainable building standards, which are based on consensus and scientific performance data.”

“As energy efficiency and building performance become increasingly important priorities for the public and private sectors, green building standards and rating systems should be based on the best available data, gathered from a range of stakeholder with relevant expertise. This coalition brings together industry leaders with an incredible range relevant expertise in manufacturing, material science and building performance, who will work to bring needed perspectives to this important work. The coalition will advocate for performance- and consensus-based standards for green building, which are the best way to achieve exceptional energy-efficiency,” said Steve Russell, vice president of plastics for the American Chemistry Council (ACC).

“Manufacturers have led the way in innovating technologies and solutions to improve energy efficiency and keep energy affordable,” said Chip Yost, assistant vice president of energy and resources policy for the National Association of Manufacturers . “With buildings using approximately 40 percent of the energy in the U.S., green standards play an important role in the manufacturing of energy-efficient products. It is important that organizations setting the standards use a consensus-based and transparent process, grounded in good science.”

The USGBC has released a statement in response to the formation of the AHPBC.

“We welcome the announcement of the formation of the AHPBC, but as Ronald Reagan once said, we will ‘trust but verify,’” said Roger Platt, senior vice president of global policy and law at USGBC. “Like the newly formed coalition, USGBC also supports the use of green building codes and standards, in addition to third-party rating systems like LEED and has proudly worked with leading code development organizations to co-release the leading mandatory green building codes.”

According to Platt, the USGBC understands the importance of input from other industry members.

“If this coalition is sincere in its interest to advance high-performance buildings over the status quo, we welcome them to the table and sincerely look forward to engaging together to make green buildings more valuable to Americans,” Platt said.

AHPBC representatives had not yet responded to requests for comment at press time. USGBC representatives declined to comment further.

by Erica Terrini, eterrini@glass.com

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