The N.C. House of Representatives approved 78-34 a second reading of a bill that is expected to bar public projects from using the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED program, reports the Charlotte Business Journal.
House Bill 628 — titled Protect/Promote NC Lumber — says those projects 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.
That will effectively block the use of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system, says Emily Scofield, USGBC-NC executive director.
House Bill 628 compelled representatives to protect North Carolina’s timber industry without providing evidence that the industry has suffered as a result of LEED certification,” Scofield said after the House vote. “The USGBC NC and its supporters worked to present the facts to our representatives that all N.C. 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.”
HB 628 was originally expected to be legislation calling for a study, Rep. Ruth Samuelson said during debate on the House floor this afternoon. Samuelson said she received numerous emails with concerns on the impact of the legislation after it was introduced, adding that there was uncertainty as to how the bill would affect Charlotte-based Nucor Corp., concrete makers and other companies that are part of the green building industry.
Samuelson offered an amendment that would delay the bill’s enactment to July 1, 2014. Her amendment also called for that deadline to apply to “construction and renovation projects for which the bidding process is initiated on or after that date.”
But Rep. Mark Brody (R-Union) called for the amendment to be voted down: “LEED does not hold the secret to green building.” Samuelson told other house members that, whether they supported or opposed the LEED program, that there was a “whole heck of a lot of jobs tied to it.” “Why would we not take the time to look into the potential problems and solve them in the year?” she says of any unintended consequences of HB 628.
But Rep. Mike Hager (R-Rutherford) said any delays would hurt economic development in the state. “I need to add jobs now,” Hager said, calling for opposition to Samuelson’s amendment. “If you are for jobs, you will vote for this amendment,” Samuelson responded.
Samuelson’s amendment failed in a 53-58 vote.
A third and final reading of the bill is pending. If HB 628 is approved, it will still require support from the state senate. 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 NC timber both benefit our state’s economy and natural resources.” Read More.