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June 2012 | See all news in this issue

New LEED standards are delayed…

Responding to objections from architects and trade associations, approval of LEED 2012, the latest green building design and construction standards, has been delayed for at least a year.

LEED, which stands for Leadership in Environmental Energy Design, is the system set up by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) to create criteria for rating environmentally friendly buildings and homes. LEED 2012 was supposed to replace a three-year-old version with updated requirements for design and materials in green construction. But architects, builders and suppliers complained that USGBC was moving too fast amid a weak real estate market and that the tools and materials needed to comply with the new standards were not widely available.

LEED has taken on new importance in recent years as it has been increasingly incorporated in federal and state government standards for new construction. That, in turn, has raised questions about how the LEED standards are developed.

A coalition of trade associations representing the makers of building products and materials had urged Congress to review changes being considered for the LEED rating system. In a letter to a subcommittee of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, the industry coalition said that the latest version of the LEED standards lacks scientific basis and has not been developed through consensus, as required by federal law.

“Our strong view is that the current third draft of LEED 2012 is fatally flawed and must go back to the drawing board with true consensus processes, or be rejected by federal agencies,” the industry coalition said in its letter.

As a result of this and similar protests, 56 members of Congress last month urged the General Services Administration to reject the new standards. “We are deeply concerned that the LEED rating system is becoming a tool to punish chemical companies and plastics makers,” the lawmakers said.

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