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Ohio Senators Propose LEED Ban on State Building Codes

New Ohio state senate resolution calls for the elimination of the USGBC's LEED v4 from the state building code, citing its lack of transparency in development and changes.

Is there a green backlash gaining steam? Apparently so.

Despite recognition that energy efficiency is important in construction, two Ohio senators have introduced a bill that would ban the use of LEED v4 in the state.

The resolution, SCR 25, from Senators Joe Uecker, R-Loveland, and Tim Schaffer, R-Lancaster, says LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) does not follow the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) consensus procedures and, therefore, does not allow the proper amount of public comment or transparency in the development of the standard or changes.

LEED is developed by the U.S. Green Building Council and is used as a guideline for the construction of public buildings and residences (LEED for Homes). In the system, homes and buildings earn points based on energy efficiency, rainwater collection and other factors.

Other challenges to LEED have surfaced in the past in North Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, and Georgia, but the Ohio legislation is the first one that directly says the state should not use LEED v4 and asks the state’s Office of Energy Services within the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC) to seek out an alternative standard for the building code.

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Article Topics

News · Builders · Legal · All topics

About the Author

Jason Knott, Editor, CE Pro
Jason has covered low-voltage electronics as an editor since 1990. He joined EH Publishing in 2000, and before that served as publisher and editor of Security Sales, a leading magazine for the security industry. He served as chairman of the Security Industry Association’s Education Committee from 2000-2004 and sat on the board of that association from 1998-2002. He is also a former board member of the Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation. He is currently a member of the CEDIA Education Action Team for Electronic Systems Business. Jason graduated from the University of Southern California.

10 Comments (displayed in order by date/time)

Posted by Christopher  on  11/21  at  06:17 PM

This is interesting. The proposed, opt-in “UL-106 Standard for Sustainability for General Illumination Lighting” is currently being established, much like ETL is doing for sustainability up north in Canada. Without getting into procedural and political issues, it does seem reasonable to stay on top of this for marketing purposes, nevermind the environment. LEED qualification is a definite differentiator on many levels (tax, regulatory, consumer adoption, etc.) ...and not supporting it could have a negative impact on future development and sales. In UL’s case, they envision tracking LEED’s Platinum/Gold/Silver rating scale for lighting fixtures and integral components (not just the lamp), whether they are built-in, on-board or essential/matched peripheral components (like an external driver). It remains to be seen how LEED would credit the UL standard in LEED certification, but this is the (smart) way to the future. So hopefully they’‘ll sort this out ASAP, and not scuttle efforts to improve manufacturing processes that enhance environmental performance.

Posted by aj4global  on  11/21  at  08:09 PM

I agree with the Senators!  Let the people, not the government decide how much they want to do for “green”.  Same with sprinklers.  Don’t MAKE people get sprinklers.

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  11/22  at  08:48 AM

I’m with you, aj4 ... why would a government entity standardize on a capricious set of “standards” that often add cost with no real benefit.

Posted by LB804  on  11/22  at  11:46 AM

AJ and Julie are right.  While we are at it lets get rid of building codes and safety standards.  Also speed limits and pretty much all laws and just let the people decide what they want to do.

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  11/22  at  11:58 AM

Not sure where that’s coming from, LB804. You are talking about safety codes. LEED is a lose assortment of green-friendly rules that specify such things as the types (and how many) trees you plant, the types of building materials used, how water is recycled, the availability of bike racks, etc.

Ohio just doesn’t want to be beholden to them. They can come up with their own rules for buildings that make sense economically and ecologically.

Posted by aj4global  on  11/22  at  01:00 PM

Requiring people to build to LEED is not a safety issue.  It is government rule makers telling us what to do and buy.  Rule makers make rules.  In my home state, they want to require all roads to be pervious pavement.  Costs more and DOES NOT WORK in the rainy side of the mountains in the NW.  It will literally take an act of Congress to stop it.  The rule makers don’t care about economic consequences.  How much more will it cost, per home, to meet the LEED standard?  Let the consumer/builder decide.

Posted by Chris  on  11/23  at  10:40 AM

LEED is still young, though it is becoming a defacto standard, with all it’s pluses and pitfalls. See:  “Ready for primetime,” is a discussion yet to occur. A good debate on LEED’s merits—and the fixes needed to establish, address and fulfill LEED’s goals—would be beneficial and is in process (touch wood). Conversely, UL has been in the safety standards business from the start and brings a lot to the table by proposing an **optional** sustainability standard. The NRTLs, ETL and the NEC, et al, are also keeping an eye on the Standards UL establishes. LEED may be well served by hitching their (yes, capricious) standards to an outside authority with a stout record of due diligence. UL’s executive board and their STPs advance Standards based on prevailing market conditions; and, OEMs can also request and underwrite the establishment of new Standards (safety/required -or- sustainability/opt-in) when they believe it will be a worthwhile market differentiator of their products. Then, all OEMs in that sector can leverage those Standards as they choose. Supporting LEED is a long view senario because it’s still in its infancy. Better weighting and review of LEED’s standards is essential. Adding rigor to the equation, by bringing alternate viewpoints (like UL’s STPs comprised of industry experts and contrarian viewpoints) would provide for better cross-checking.  That doesn’t mean LEED is a bad idea, it’s just not mature.  Adolescence takes time, and needs guidance for proper development. Personally, I would prefer legislation that supports the goal of sustainability, rather than shooting a fledgling that needs time to learn to fly. There’s nothing wrong with making an objection, but my rule at meetings is you then also have to offer a (hopefully better) alternative that gets the job done.

Posted by Chris  on  11/23  at  10:45 AM

btw, I caught a typo in my first post, I meant to say CSA, not ETL.  See:

Posted by D. Franklin  on  12/02  at  08:28 PM

I am in agreement with the senators, but not for their stated reasons of opposition.  I believe that the change a few years ago to multiple levels of LEED certification and the new requirement for perpetual updating of one’s status stem from a realization by the USGBC that a constant stream of income would be necessary for maintaining and expanding its new bureaucracy.  Such a stream of constant revenue would not be possible if those passing the exam once are then left alone.  This follows a similar trend by software companies, mobile telephone service providers, and others toward locking as many people as possible on perpetutal subscriptive ‘hooks’.  I advise most of my own clients toward a LEED certiFIABLE, but not LEED certiFIED approach.

Posted by Ryan  on  01/31  at  12:26 PM

Hopefully canceling out a little ignorance in the comments:

There is no requirement in Ohio that homes be LEED certified.  aj made that up.  And the comment on the sprinklers is also 100% out of context.  The LEED requirement has to do with schools that accepted funding from the Ohio School Facilities Commission post-2007.  This is an issue of building better schools for children.  So, get your facts straight, negative Nancy!  LEED for Schools certification provides parents, teachers and the community with a report card for their school buildings – verifying that the school has been built to meet a high level of energy and environmental performance.  If you happen to be a parent of a kid attending one of these schools,  or just interested, ask the school’s staff if you can have a copy of the report!  =)

Every school will have achieved different points under the LEED system, perhaps under energy or water or site planning or exemplary construction practices, and so on.  There are lots of ways to be green - schools are required to get enough points for LEED Silver.

Secondly, Julie - aside from the use of “capricious” as an interesting use of personification, there is no doubt that the schools have been built well.  Ohio’s green schools have outperformed baseline energy performance by 34 percent.  The frustration that you express over the state being “beholden” to a system must be vexing.  There are guidelines that determine the characteristics of almost every commercial product, work process, you name it.  Perhaps you are upset with the recent update to LEED, which is why you use the word capricious.  If that’s the case, this ain’t the place!  Let the kids have nice schools with good indoor air quality and lower bills than average schools, friendly on the property taxes.

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