LEED Green Building Certification on the Line

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Guest Editorial by Emily Scofield, M.S., LEED AP, Executive Director USGBC NC

The U.S. Green Building Council – North Carolina Chapter (USGBC NC) is vocal this year with state and federal legislators to defend and fulfill its mission of transforming the built environment into healthy, efficient and environmentally sustainable communities.

There are four bills in the North Carolina Legislature that have USGBC NC’s attention:
*H628-Protect/Promote NC Lumber (Oppose),
*S492-Energy/Water Benchmarking for State Buildings (Support)
*H201-Reinstate 2009 Energy Conservation Code (Oppose), and
*H298/S365-Affordable and Reliable Energy Act (Oppose).

House Bill 628-Protect/Promote NC Lumber has a great title but as written, it prohibits public construction projects from using LEED – the world’s most respected, widely-used, and successful green building rating system.  This bill is not in sync with its title because it fails to add a requirement to guarantee the use of NC lumber.  HB 628 suggests that LEED disadvantages NC timber; however, USGBC NC and LEED support projects using regional timber regardless of their certification.  Here are the facts:

  1. ALL NC forest products can contribute to points toward certification under the regional materials credit.
  2. Procurement of locally harvested, extracted, manufactured or produced materials (including wood) for construction projects is rewarded with points toward LEED certification.

NC House Bill 628 passed through the Committee on Agriculture on May 7 and passed the House on May 8. The bill compelled our state representatives to protect North Carolina’s timber industry without providing evidence that the industry has suffered as a result of LEED certification.  The USGBC NC and its supporters worked to present the facts that all NC forest products can contribute to points toward certification under the regional materials credits of LEED and some can also contribute to the certified wood credit.  We will work harder with the Senate once this bill crosses over.  LEED and NC timber both benefit our state’s economy and natural resources. 

USGBC NC supports Senate Bill 492, which requires energy and water use benchmarking with Energy Star Portfolio Manager for state owned or leased buildings >10,000 sq. ft.  Building benchmarking is a tool to identify better operations and maintenance practices that will save public funds and natural resources in the long term.  USGBC NC worked with Sen. Stein of Wake County to draft this bill and now it needs to be heard by the Committee on Agriculture/Environment/Natural Resources before May 16, 2013.  USGBC NC is encouraging Committee leadership to put this bill on their agenda.

S492 provides the way to have a significant impact on community-wide energy and water use in the coming decades by improving efficiency and comfort of older buildings.  S492 promotes healthy, resilient, high-performing buildings and complements existing policies relating to energy efficiency in newly constructed State buildings.  Investing in energy and water efficiency will contribute to stable, long-term economic growth and encourage job creation.

The USGBC NC website has a complete list of Advocacy Alerts and actions you can take. Click Here.