Can Big Chem Meet Green Building Standards?

Several weeks ago, I attended a brief talk by a green building consultant. Before the talk, I might have called him a LEED consultant, but in his remarks he made it clear that he was not tied to the USGBC’s rating system. He noted that “LEED-lovers” had concerns about Green Globes, but he expressed just as much willingness to consult based on the plastics-friendly rating system as on LEED.

I had wondered whether LEED consultants would find the prospect of the new International Green Construction Code (IgCC) – which is ideally to be evaluated by local code officials – to be a threat to their business model, and as confirmation, he had very little good to say about the IgCC.

But now I am reading that the ICC, ASHRAE, AIA & USGBC have signed an agreement to develop a joint ANSI standard based on both LEED and the IgCC. Leading Building Industry Groups Agree to Streamline Green Building Tool Coordination and Development:

Washington, D.C. — (Aug. 21, 2014) — The International Code Council (ICC), ASHRAE, the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IES) and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) announce the signing of a memorandum to collaborate on the development of Standard 189.1, the International Green Construction Code (IgCC) and the LEED green building program.

The unprecedented cooperation aims to create a comprehensive framework for jurisdictions looking to implement and adopt green building regulations and codes and/or provide incentives for voluntary leadership programs such as LEED.

Treehugger’s Lloyd Alter asks whether this signals the end of the plastics wars:

Big Chem has been relentless and had racked up a string of victories, but the USGBC was not without its successes. Just last week they inked a deal with four other organizations to collaborate on the development of the International Green Construction Code.

Now, the USGBC and the ACC are actually setting up a committee to work together, with the USGBC issuing a press release with the surprising title U.S. Green Building Council and the American Chemistry Council to Work Together to Advance LEED.

Alter’s question is whether ‘science-based’ means the sort of science we see from Big Oil, Big Pharma and Big Ag, where studies are commissioned to prove what needs to be proved, or whether materials will still have to meet stringent tests like those found in Cradle-to-Cradle certification.

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