JUNE 2008 6/6/08 (HuffPost Green)John Tepper Marlin: Green Building News - USGBC to Accredit LEED Certifiers - Two Cheers! Last week it went unnoticed in the Mainstream Media, but it was very big green news. The U.S. Green Building Council announced that starting next year it will abandon certifying green buildings to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards. Instead, it appears that it will make its sister certification agency into an accreditation body to license certifiers. That's good news because it means the backlog of applications for certifications has some chance of getting cleared up. USGBC gets great credit for making the LEED standards by far and away the most widely used U.S. green-building ratings. But success has generated a backlog of applications for certification, raising questions about a possible gap between hope and reality. After four years of the LEED program in New York City at the end of 2007, there were 15 LEED certifications, or one for every 20 of the 294 registrations in the pipeline. So developers are putting up billboards saying they are "pursuing" a particular level of LEED.
DECEMBER 2007 12/27/07 (HuffPost)John Tepper Marlin: LEEDing the Way to Greener Buildings, LEED is mostly second-party certification because LEED creates its own checklist standard and then goes through the list to award points for each achievement. Third-party certifications require an independent accreditation body and an independent standard-setting body. LEED could well evolve into a third-party system since it has multi-stakeholder committees in place. A major plus of the LEED program is that it appears to offer a solution to the problem of encouraging leaders as well as laggards. The layered approach to certification deals well with this issue. Activist NGOs tend to target industry leaders (sensible enough for publicity purposes) while broader industry practice tends to lag behind. The LEED program offers eight valuable lessons on how to motivate both ends of the industry.
12/3/07 (BlogSpot)The Status of LEED in NYC - Positive Lessons. The LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) program is very successful, judging by the number of signs in New York City with large headlines indicating pursuit of this or that LEED certification, and the number of real estate advertisements that mention LEED certification achieved or in process.
OCTOBER 2007 10/17/07 The biggest source of air pollution in NYC is not cars or people, it is buildings. Read Clean Buildings in NYC from Gotham Gazette for a rundown on the problems and possible solutions.
10/07 Voluntary action by companies may make business sense because green buildings could become a matter of law. That's what's happening in California. Dave Downey, in "'Green' Building May Become the Law in California," North County Times (serving Riverside and San Diego), reports that Californian lawmakers are considering legislating green buildings. The interests appear to line up there as follows:
Legislators: "Studies show that buildings are responsible for 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions," said Assemblyman Ted Lieu, D-Torrance. Adam Dondro, legislative aide to Assemblyman John Laird, D-Santa Cruz, said: "It's a huge piece that needs to be addressed." Laird and Lieu co-wrote legislation this year  to establish statewide building regulations that would help create new tracts of energy-efficient homes, beginning in 2013. The legislation, Assembly Bill 1058, would direct the state Department of Housing and Community Development to write new building codes that require efficient homes. Lieu also wrote Assembly Bill 888 to require efficient commercial buildings starting in 2013. Both bills passed the Legislature and are sitting on the desk of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was at the UN on Monday urging worldwide action on global warming. Dondro said the details of the mandate would have to be spelled out by the state housing department. But the regulations probably would address insulation, design, air conditioning systems and other building practices, aiming to curb electricity consumption and, by extension, carbon emissions.
Environmentalists: Carolyn Chase, founder of an environmental group called San Diego EarthWorks, suggested that the governor ought to take his own advice and take action to sign the green building bills. "It's a good time to tell the governor, 'Now's a good time to sign those bills,' " Chase said. She praised both the new commission policy and the legislation sitting on the governor's desk. "The technology exists to build more efficient buildings," Chase said. "But you have to sometimes order people to do the right thing, when it comes to increasing the standards."
Building Industry: But the building industry argues that it would be better to encourage green building through local incentive programs rather than through mandatory regulations. "Give us the carrot," said Tommy Thompson, a spokesman for the Riverside County Chapter of the Building Industry Association of Southern California. "Why bust out the stick right away?" Local builders also have expressed concern about new policies adopted by the California Public Utilities Commission last week. Thompson of the building association said builders are "opposed to mandates, but we're not opposed to building green." On the contrary, he said, the Riverside County branch is preparing to ask the Western Riverside Council of Governments later this fall to pass a resolution encouraging member cities to adopt green incentive programs. Thompson said the association would like cities to put projects on a fast track if they include green elements.
Regulatory Agency for Utilities: The regulatory agency said it will require the state's three major electric utilities -- including San Diego Gas & Electric Co. and Southern California Edison -- to set up new rates to encourage developers to build homes that use renewable energy and don't require new electricity. Paul Tryon, chief executive officer for the San Diego Building Industry Association, said earlier that he needed to study the policy before taking a position. But he said the policy's 2020 target date for building only homes that require no new electricity was probably unrealistic.
Utilities support the new policy. "The commission's decision is another clear demonstration of its commitment to energy conservation, and we applaud this groundbreaking move," said Anne Smith, senior vice president for customer service for SDG&E. Southern California Edison officials also praised the move. "As the nation's leader in energy efficiency program savings, we support the commission's policy desire to make energy efficiency a core part of utility business priorities and create an energy-efficiency policy model for the nation," Edison spokesman Gil Alexander said in a statement.
Local Government: Bob Johnson, Temecula's assistant city manager for development, said his city is interested in adopting such a program. [Contact Dave Downey at (760) 745-6611, Ext. 2623. ]