Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Mississippi Senator Wants to Ban LEED

Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker has added an amendment to ban federal funding for Housing and Urban Development or Department of Transportation LEED projects. Amendment No. 1777 bans federal funding for projects unless they use the American National Standard Institute system. This system only excludes materials that are scientifically proven to be harmful or wasteful.

Republican Senator Roger Wicker to Ban Funding for LEED
Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker
Senator Wicker seeks to promote the growth of the lumber, plastic, and chemical industry. He points out that the lumber industry is suffering due to competition for greener materials, such as bamboo. Senator Wicker is proposing guidelines put forth by the Green Building Initiative, a nonprofit organization that considers itself an affordable replacement for LEED.

The United States Green Building Council (USGBC) argues that banning their LEED certifications would reduce both efficiency and safety for low-income projects. The amendment would hurt the Department of Transportation and potentially put low-income homeowners at risk physically and monetarily. LEED ratings help ensure that buildings are not only cost effective but are also healthy for the environment and public LEED was officially recommended by the General Services Administration this year. The GSA recommended LEED for all GSA buildings as it is the best measure for energy efficiency.

Earlier this year, Senator Wicker supported the ban on LEED in Department of Defense projects. He believed that LEED was incorrect in their view on hardwood.

"As the Department of Defense works to improve energy efficiency, it is important that its building standards be based on sound science and incorporate due process in their development and implementation," Senator Wicker stated. "Standards should take into consideration the full life cycle of wood products, including the environmental benefits provided by our domestic reforestation programs...the Department of Defense should use credible standards that more accurately assess U.S. wood products."

However, is this truly about wood products? Congressional Republicans have shown much resistance to environmental initiatives, including the new EPA chief to Obama's battle on coal. Senator Wicker should support both the public and businesses by working to create healthier living environments with improved technology and infrastructure rather than simply promoting private wood businesses.