House Bill 628 was approved by the N.C. House of Representatives in a 70-43 vote, reports the Charlotte Business Journal. Titled Protect/Promote NC Lumber, the proposed legislation says public projects under construction or renovation may use “a nationally recognized high-performance environmental building rating system” if that green building program doesn’t use a credit system “disadvantaging materials or products manufactured or produced” in North Carolina.
Charlotte based steelmaker NUCOR is strongly supporting the continued use of the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED rating system in response to efforts from the N.C. House to bar its use for public building projects.
“We believe the state must not abandon its use of LEED certification, which promotes energy efficiency, preservation of our natural resources, and encourages state projects funded by state taxpayers to use locally-sourced materials, thereby benefitting North Carolina-based businesses,”, said says Katherine Miller, Nucor spokeswoman, in a statement sent to the Charlotte Business Journal.
The language of the bill does not specifically require the use of North Carolina wood. However, it does rule out the use of LEED without specifying LEED, says Emily Schofield, USGBC-NC executive director. Scofield warns this legislation will damage a billion-dollar green building industry here. Nucor concurs.
“In the construction industry, increased interest in recycling has been driven largely by the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED rating system,” Nucor’s Miller says. Nucor says USGBC and the LEED program has benefitted its industry.
“In an effort to promote the important environmental attributes of steel produced in the state, especially its high recycled content and high recovery rate, our industry has worked closely with the U.S. Green Building Council and its LEED program,” Miller says. “As a result, our industry has been able to take advantage of this very important opportunity in the marketplace, while also promoting the efficient use of our natural resources.”
“For nearly 20 years, the steel industry in North Carolina and the United States has been under siege by cheaply made, inferior steel products from countries such as China – products which are made with no regard for environmental laws and dumped in our market often at prices below what it costs U.S. steelmakers to produce steel,” Miller says. The company, which makes carbon- and alloy-steel products at facilities in the U.S. and Canada, is North America’s largest recycler. Nucor says it produces more steel in the U.S. than any other manufacturer
HB628 will still require support from the state senate to become law. The state’s USGBC chapter plans to continue its efforts to stop the bill. “We will work harder with the Senate once this bill crosses over,” USGBC-NC’s Scofield says. “LEED and N.C. timber both benefit our state’s economy and natural resources.”
LEED —the USGBC’s third-party program for vetting green-building design and construction — awards one of its points to projects that use wood that’s certified under the Forest Stewardship Council. Both the Sustainable Forestry Initiative and the American Tree Farm System have unsuccessfully fought for consideration in the LEED program as a certification system for wood materials. Members of the USGBC voted against inclusion of the other rating programs. The LEED program, however, does award points for materials that come from local sources, which can include wood that hasn’t been FSC certified. Read More.