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Industry Forms Coalition In Fight Over Green Building Ratings Industry Forms Coalition In Fight Over Green Building Ratings

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Industry Forms Coalition In Fight Over Green Building Ratings

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Chemistry Council and 25 other business and manufacturing groups have formed a new coalition in a fight over the development process of a new green building rating system.

The American High-Performance Buildings Coalition also includes the National Association of Manufacturers, PIMA, the Adhesives and Sealants Council and the Center for Environmental Innovation in Roofing.

One of the issues is how the U.S. Green Building Council is going about its fourth iteration of LEED, one of the country's most widely-used green building rating systems. They also want the General Services Administration, which requires the 2009 gold LEED rating for all new federal construction, to rethink using the new system if it gets finalized.

"The mission of this new coalition is to support and promote green building codes, standards, rating systems and credits that are developed in conformance with full [American National Standards Institute] or ISO-type consensus processes, are data-driven, supported by science, and performance-based," according to a release.

The new LEED rating system, which is up for public comment, will eventually be determined by a vote taken among USGBC's 15,000 members (ACC is one of them). USGBC policy strategy director Lane Burt says that this new coalition's push for "green building codes" is encouraging, but developing a rating system using the ANSI process "would be completely impractical" for them since it could mean voting on each individual credit in the rating system. There are more than 100.

Many of the coalition organizations have also been busy lobbying against the proposed new standards, specifically on a few credits given to projects that use certain building materials. The plastics and chemistry industries are worried this discourages builders from using chemicals such as PVC, which they say are essential for energy-efficient building.

The USGBC, for its part, doesn't think it can "out-lobby" the coalition on this, Burt says, and they have no major ad campaigns planned, according to USGBC media manager Ashley Katz.

"Politics hasn't played a significant role in the technical process before. This is a new thing," Burt says. "We're just trying to clear up the misconceptions about LEED."

ACC vice president Steve Russell says that "it's early in the coalition's organization. We're having lots of discussion but nothing we can talk about at this time" as far as ad campaigns and reach out. Coalition members have been hitting the Hill to talk to lawmakers about rating systems and the GSA's adoption of them, though.

"We're going to continue to work with policy makers, lawmakers and green building system purveyors to make sure they understand the opportunities that the materials and innovations in our industry provide" Russell says.

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