START A PETITION 25,136,189 members: the world's largest community for good
START A PETITION
x

Timber and Plastic Industries Want to Decide Green Building Standards

Timber and Plastic Industries Want to Decide Green Building Standards

In the 1970s, sick buildings became a mounting concern as people realized that many materials — need we mention asbestos? — made us, well, sick. Thankfully, we’ve now been hearing more and more about green buildings that are constructed to use energy as efficiently as possible and are made from locally sourced materials rather than from a tree half way around the world grown on land that was once the habitat of an endangered species.

Wary of how calls for green buildings could diminish their profits, multinational companies in the timber, plastics and chemical industries are trying to set their own standards for green buildings under official-sounding entities such as the American National Standards Institute, the Green Globes and the Sustainable Forestry Industry program.

These organizations and protocols have been created to counter the current green building certification, LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) standard. 34 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico — and the federal government — all have policies that call for LEED construction or incentives to follow LEED standards in public buildings.

The non-profit U.S. Green Building Council created the LEED standard, under which public buildings, commercial offices and private homes are rated on a 100-point scale based on whether they use locally sourced materials and energy-efficient design. A million and a half square feet of real estate are now certified a day using LEED standards.

As you might have guessed, the green building certification proposed by the industrial sector has laxer standards.

Not only are companies promoting their own standards in the interest of protecting what Sierra Club activist Jason Grant calls “their core business model, which largely relies on large-scale clear cutting and replanting.” They are also trying to petition state governments to remove LEED certification, according to Mother Jones:

Mississippi was the most recent state to do this, with an amendment tacked on to a transportation and housing appropriations bill. Alabama and Georgia have done the same through executive order. An industry coalition is also trying to push similar language through Congress that would cover new construction from the largest property manager in the country, the federal government.

The timber industry is especially up in arms about one LEED standard for lumber. If a building uses wood grown and acquired under LEED specifications, it gets one point on the 100-point scale. The building could still get LEED certification but just not at that point– and the timber industry is not happy about this.

Another industry-based “better buildings” entity, the American High-Performance Buildings Coalition (with the curious URL of http://www.betterbuildingstandards.com/) argues that LEED is not transparent and does not represent all “stakeholders.”

LEED’s defenders acknowledge that it is a work in progress, with environmentalists in disagreement about what should be included to make a building green. With deforestation threatening ecosystems that are home to endangered species and that local residents rely on for their livelihood, green construction is clearly here to stay.

The green building industry now accounts for 45 percent of the marketplace for new construction, according to Lane Burt, policy director of the U.S. Green Building Council. The timber, plastics and chemical industries devoting so many efforts to counter LEED shows that the green building industry has arrived.

That’s certainly a positive development, though as Burt points out, “there’s no nonprofit that’s going to match the lobbying clout of the timber industry.” The green building industry has to start being “more politically savvy.”

Matthew Yeomans has written that the word “sustainability” has been co-opted by commerce and industry to the extent that it has become as devoid of meaning as “natural.” It’s no surprise that industry giants are trying to get a foothold in the business of building sustainably. It’s all the more reason not to let them co-opt green construction and make sure that green buildings live up to their name and to solid standards, rather than less stringent ones crafted by the very industries whose products created the reason for LEED standards in the first place.

Read more: , , , , ,

Photo from Thinkstock

have you shared this story yet?

some of the best people we know are doing it

75 comments

+ add your own
3:50AM PDT on Sep 15, 2013

thanks for sharing :)

2:09PM PDT on Sep 12, 2013

OK,sure.And after you do that,we will put the little fat kid in charge of the candy store,and we will go on from there to give the addict control of the controlled drugs cabinet at the pharmacy.

11:34AM PDT on Sep 12, 2013

All corporations, governments, politicians and the elites want to control and make there life fulfilled and our full of misery because they do as they are told by there masters

5:56AM PDT on Sep 12, 2013

Are you surprised?

4:34AM PDT on Sep 12, 2013

noted

5:57PM PDT on Sep 11, 2013

Thanks.

5:19PM PDT on Sep 11, 2013

It was only a matter of time before green building would be noticed by the Big Businesses of build materials...and that they would try to compromise the standards andethics behind green building. Sad but true. Now, what do we try to do about it??

6:48AM PDT on Sep 10, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

12:07AM PDT on Sep 9, 2013

Hope we can hold LEED to be a decent standard (not diluted to the profit of companies)

11:27AM PDT on Sep 8, 2013

Sure they do!

add your comment



Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

ads keep care2 free

Recent Comments from Causes

I have to say that this is what I am seeing and hearing and have heard it over and over again on this…

When you sign your name to the dotted line and you enlist you have become goverment property with absolutley…

meet our writers

Kristina Chew Kristina Chew teaches ancient Greek, Latin and Classics at Saint Peter's University in New Jersey.... more
Story idea? Want to blog? Contact the editors!
ads keep care2 free

more from causes

Animal Welfare

Causes Canada

Causes UK

Children

Civil Rights

Education

Endangered Wildlife

Environment & Wildlife

Global Development

Global Warming

Health Policy

Human Rights

LGBT rights

Politics

Real Food

Trailblazers For Good

Women's Rights




Select names from your address book   |   Help
   

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.