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Chambliss, Isakson wants GSA to abandon controversial green building regs

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U.S. Senators Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson this week demanded federal regulators forswear the adoption of a new, controversial green building program amid sustained industry and shareholder criticism.

In a letter to the General Services Administration, the two Georgians joined a bipartisan mix of 16 Senate lawmakers shredding the recently-tabled LEED green program administered by the U.S. Green Building Council, whose certification guidelines the agency had previously adopted. But new provisions banning the use of common plastics and chemicals has drawn unprecedented shareholder and legislative scrutiny.

“We are writing to express our concern with the recently released LEED 2012 standards set forth by the [USGBC ] and subsequent adoption of these standards by the [GSA],” the group wrote to acting agency chief Daniel Tangherlini. “The proposed LEED 2012 rating system is a significant department from the previous version of the green building rating system, and could undermine the goal of improving energy efficiency by eliminating the use of dozens approved materials and hundreds of proven products, all while driving up building costs to the taxpayer and threatening employment in our states.”

After weathering months-long criticism for its chemical avoidance policy–which directed builders, including would-be government contractors, to nix the use of polyvinyl chloride, or PVC plastic–USGBC officials made the surprise announcement earlier this month they would postpone internal balloting on the amended program.

Despite the expectation by some on the Hill that the group would reassess these controversial provisions in the interim, its top executives made clear they had no intensions to dilute the sting of the program when they again floated it for approval in June of next year.

If the case be that LEED’s designers refuse to tweak the program’s anti-chemical bent, the group of senators said, GSA must disavow it lest the government waste taxpayer money for a dubious environmental agenda.

“If USGBC does not reconsider its anti-chemical proposals in LEED 2012, we respectfully request that GSA stop using the LEED rating system, in factor or more performance based standards,” they wrote. “As the largest federal government agency that has adopted LEED, GSA’s adherence to LEED 2012 would amount to a federal endorsement of efficiency standards which preclude the use of some of the most effective techniques and materials.”

The letter echoes concerns expressed in an earlier missive, signed by seven Georgia House GOP’ers last month, in which the federal government’s adoption of LEED was said to be tantamount to “government sanctioning of an unscientific, arbitrary, and discriminatory program of materials selection.”

- Dome Confidential

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