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Influence

Not Easy Being Green: Chemical Industry Lobbying On New Building Standards

A proposed set of green building standards has set off alarms within the chemistry and plastics industry, which is lobbying to get the U.S. General Services Administration to reconsider adopting the new rules.

One of the most commonly used green building rating standards is the U.S. Green Building Council's system, LEED--or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. Many entities use LEED, including GSA. But the new set of rules on the table discourage the use of certain chemicals and plastics in construction.

More specifically, the proposed LEED standards include three different credits given to builders for not using certain plastics and chemicals, such as polyvinyl chloride, or PVC. The American Chemistry Council's Keith Christman, managing director of plastic markets, said these chemicals are needed for materials that improve the energy efficiency of buildings.

"This casts a shadow on products essential to providing energy efficiency," Christman told the Alley. "We're strongly supportive of energy efficiency. This isn't about us against USGBC, it's about us against these three credits."

The ACC, along with dozens of other trade groups and associations representing everything from building materials to the plastics industry, have been pushing lawmakers on the issue. In May, 56 members of Congress sent a letter to GSA pushing the agency to reconsider going with LEED if it contains the chemical credits.

ACC spent a total of $2.2 million in lobbying so far this year.

It looks like ACC and others in the industry have some time to continue pushing their cause. The USGBC, which was supposed to finalize the new standards in June, pushed back deciding on the new standards until 2013, a move that came "in response to a growing outcry from architects and other building industry professionals."

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