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Ohio Advances Ban on LEED

Thursday, March 6, 2014

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Four months after its rollout, LEED v4 has made enemies in Ohio, where the state Senate has approved legislation that would ban the use of the green building rating system.

On Feb. 26, the Ohio State Senate passed the Ohio Senate Concurrent Resolution 25 (SCR 25), which rejects the use of LEED v4 in public buildings, including schools.

LEED v4, the latest version of the U.S. Green Building Council's voluntary rating system, was formally introduced in November after years of debate.

Ohio Statehouse
Ohio Statehouse

Ohio lawmakers are working to pass legislation that would ban the use of LEED v4 in public buildings. The measure has passed the Senate.

The Ohio resolution was referred Feb. 27 to the state's House of Representatives, according to the state’s legislative tracking system.

Targeting LEED v4

According to the legislation, sponsored by Republican State Sens. Joe Uecker and Tim Schaffer, the “LEED v4 green system fails to conform to recognized voluntary standard development procedures, including but not limited to American National Standards Institute (ANSI) procedures, and fails to base environmental and health criteria on risk assessment methodology.”

The language echoes arguments made by the American High-Performance Buildings Coalition during numerous rounds of LEED v4 comment periods. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, American Coatings Association, and American Chemical Council are among the members of the coalition, which has not been shy in its opposition to LEED.  


Sen. Joe Uecker co-sponsored the bill.

The Ohio legislation says state agencies and government entities should refrain from using LEED v4 until either:

  • The USGBC conforms the system to the ANSI voluntary consensus standard processes; or
  • The state, after an opportunity for public comment, incorporates LEED v4 by reference into the administrative rules for state agency and government entity building standards.

The bill also requires the state’s Office of Energy Services to begin a review of alternative rating systems, codes and standards. One such alternative that has recently gained favor in the federal arena is the Green Building Institute’s Green Globes system.

LEED v4 has been described as a "quantum leap for LEED." Officials say the revamped system builds on previous versions while preparing LEED projects to perform at higher level.

Critics contend, however, that some of the LEED v4 language has a negative impact on U.S. manufacturers. For example, paint and coating manufacturers have voiced concerns over emissions testing and chemical disclosure provisions.

A Win for Chemical Lobby, USGBC Says

The USGBC’s Central Ohio chapter called the Senate action a victory for the chemical industry, saying, “Chemical lobbyists came one step closer to their goal of keeping healthy, sustainable buildings out of Ohio.”

“We’re very disappointed to see Ohio state senators listening to powerful, high-paid special interest groups and not Ohio citizens,” said Tyler Steele, vice chair of the chapter's Board of Directors.

The group is urging Ohio's LEED supporters to press their representatives to reject the bill. They argue that SCR 25 will stall job creation during the state’s economic recovery.

Ohio State University
Robert Chriss / Wikimedia Commons

Ohio has more LEED-certified schools than any other state. The Ohio Union at Ohio State University is LEED-Silver certified.

Ohio has more LEED-certified schools—129 as of March 2013— than any other state, USGBC reports.

Other States’ Anti-LEED Measures

Ohio is not alone in taking on the LEED program. Several other states have drafted legislation targeting the system, pointing to arguments over wood sourcing. Some have been successful.

For instance, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal effectively banned LEED certification for state building projects with an executive order issued in August 2012.

The order requires the use of green building standards that equally recognize three forestry standards—the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), the American Tree Farm System, and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). The LEED system offers optional credits only to products certified to the Forest Stewardship Council standard, according to the legislation.

The order said that “recognizing all forest certifications equally will promote sustainable forestry in our state and will help create thousands of jobs while maintaining our strong outdoor heritage.”

Similar measures were passed in Maine and Alabama.


Tagged categories: Color + Design; Government; Government contracts; Green building; Laws and litigation; LEED v4; U.S. Green Building Council

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