State-Funded Projects and LEED v4

As reported by EcoBuildingPulse a few weeks ago, Indiana Governor Mike Pence decided to neither sign nor veto a new bill that will put an end to the state’s energy efficiency program. The decision was controversial and met with criticism since an alternative measure has not been proposed as of yet. Several environmental groups have weighed in on the matter, expressing disappointment that the changes could lead to increased waste and pollution, as well as a loss in jobs. Pence was hopeful that the state senate would offer an alternative plan. When no alternative was offered, Pence felt he had to let the current plan lapse. Such a shift in policy begs the question as to whether other lawmakers will take Indiana’s approach and focus more on future project energy efficiency and less on retrofit projects.

South Carolina recently passed a new bill that was the result of compromise between state leaders and businesses. With the newest version of LEED requiring disclosure of material components from manufacturers, businesses in South Carolina argued against state adoption of this requirement. Originally, a bill was proposed to outright ban LEED in the state, but the compromise will allow buildings to seek LEED certification, but without the materials transparency requirement. Essentially, “the law uses specific language to restrict the pursuit of credits related to material transparency and states that projects requesting third-party certification ‘shall not be allowed to seek a rating credit or point for building product disclosure and optimization credit that requires material ingredient reporting.’”

Ohio also finds itself on the brink of removing LEED certification as it relates to state-funded projects. A resolution was recently introduced that would ban the use of LEED v4 by Ohio state agencies. Opponents of the resolution fear that this is the result of lobbying by plastics and chemical companies in Ohio.

Whether these developments are the beginning of a trend to deemphasize the importance of certification programs with state and locally funded sustainability efforts, or simply a few isolated cases, remains to be seen. States continue to try and balance the needs of a sustainability program in construction with sometimes restrictive certification programs.

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