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Taxpayers Deserve Answers About LEED

On Thursday, November 15, 2012, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance sent a letter to General Services Administration Acting Administrator Dan Tangherlini voicing concern about the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) being involved in creating environmental standards that are then relied upon to dictate government policies.  In particular, TPA is concerned about the proposed changes to the USGBC’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building standards known as LEEDv4. In addition to congressional leaders who have publicly raised concern over this issue through committee hearings, TPA has been closely monitoring the proposed changes. In September, Real Clear Policy published TPA’s op-ed on LEED: “The Expensive Truth About Green Regulations” and in October TPA submitted a public comment letter to the USGBC highlighting our concerns about LEED v4. Both the op-ed and letter discussed the negative effects this new incarnation of standards will have on American taxpayers.  LEED v4 will only continue a government-sanctioned monopoly that hurts job creation, weakens various American industries, and unnecessarily costs taxpayers hard-earned money. This is not a recipe for success when our nation is fighting a heavy blanket of regulation to again be able to compete, recover and grow. The American taxpayers deserve better and TPA urges the GSA to begin official government investigations into how private, non-science based non-profit organizations are out of control.

Read the full letter below:



November 15, 2012

 

Acting Administrator Dan Tangherlini
U.S. General Services Administration
One Constitution Square
1275 First Street, NE
Washington, DC 20417


Dear Acting Administrator Tangherlini:

In late October, USA Today published a feature story that exposed the exorbitant costs of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building certification system.  The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) is concerned about private, non-science based non-profit organizations like the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) being involved in creating environmental standards that are then relied upon to dictate government policies.

In this particular case, TPA would like to focus on the proposed changes to the USGBC’s LEED green building standards known as LEEDv4. In addition to congressional leaders who have publicly raised concern over this issue through committee hearings, TPA has been closely monitoring the proposed changes. In September, Real Clear Policy published TPA’s op-ed on LEED: “The Expensive Truth About Green Regulations” and in October TPA submitted a public comment letter to the USGBC highlighting our concerns about LEED v4. Both the op-ed and letter discussed the negative effects this new incarnation of standards will have on American taxpayers.

LEED is run by the private, non-profit United States Green Building Council (USGBC).  Yet according to the USA Today article, its use is mandated by several federal agencies and more than 200 state and municipal governments.  The use of LEED is being been driven largely by the USGBC itself, a 13,000-member organization, comprised of architects and building suppliers. One glaring conflict of interest is that many members profit from the type of design the council certifies and promotes. The LEED certification process for a new building can cost up to $35,000 in fees, which go directly to the USGBC.


Not only does LEED certification cost taxpayers, but its effectiveness in fostering energy-efficiency is dubious. In fact, the USA Today feature points out that “the most popular LEED option — earned in 99.7% of the buildings — has no direct environmental benefit but generates millions of dollars for the building council [USGBC] by giving one point if a design team has a LEED expert.”  This is yet another conflict of interest.

Striving to make buildings more energy efficient is a sensible policy goal, but the proposed changes in LEED v4 will stunt job creation and heap additional burdens on American taxpayers and small business owners at a time when our nation’s economy can least afford it.

In TPA’s public comment letter to the USGBC, we pointed out that products such as plastic insulation, vinyl roofing, and LED lighting are discouraged through the chemical avoidance credits in LEED v4, which uses the European Union’s REACH regulations as a benchmark. This is a standard that small and medium U.S. based manufacturers are unfamiliar with and will struggle to meet. Moreover, there are credits for certification in this new standard that could reward architects for rejecting modern technology and chose instead to use a thatched straw roof, yet the standards dissuade builders who use bullet resistant glass in federal courthouses.  LEED v4 is filled with arbitrary and requirements that pick winners in losers in the marketplace.  The American consumer and our nation’s small businesses deserve a more sensible and open approach to green building standards.

LEED v4 will only continue a government-sanctioned monopoly that hurts job creation, weakens various American industries, and unnecessarily costs taxpayers hard-earned money. This is not a recipe for success when our nation is fighting a heavy blanket of regulation to again be able to compete, recover and grow. The American taxpayers deserve better and TPA urges the GSA to begin official government investigations into how private, non-science based non-profit organizations are out of control.

 

Sincerely,

 

David E. Williams

President

Taxpayers Protection Alliance




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