Falling somewhat outside ofthe scope of the electrical industry, the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design [LEED] green building standard has been embroiled in a long-running controversy with the nation’s chemical manufacturers. That feud recently took an unexpected turn when the two sides discovered they shared a common goal.
Much to the surprise of those who have been following the ongoing antagonism between the two parties, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and the American Chemistry Council (ACC) announced a new initiative in late August. The cooperative effort will manifest itself in the form of the “supply-chain optimization working group,” which will include representatives from both organizations. The driving principal of this new effort will be to harness the collective expertise of both organizations for the purposes of updating and refining the LEED standards.
LEED is the world’s most recognizable and enacted standard for green building certification. It addresses building materials, technology and design to minimize waste and pollution and maximize energy efficiency and human health in the construction and occupancy of buildings. The standards are updated regularly through a rigorous process.
The heart of the controversy between the USGBC and the ACC has been the application of standards to chemicals that are present in some building materials. By the USGBC’s own description, one of LEED’s goals is to optimize the use of natural resources in the construction of buildings.
The ACC has long objected to the manner in which LEED measures the hazards posed by the presence of chemicals. It would like to see the use of a risk assessment method that measures the hazards posed by certain levels of exposure rather than just looking at whether or not the material is present regardless of the amount. The LEED version 4 credit, dealing with material ingredients (MRc4), will address this issue.