The proliferation of green standards has some developers yearning for a better-coordinated, simpler approach to defining sustainable structures. The current generation of green building evaluation mechanisms including LEED, Green Globes, the Living Building Challenge, EPA’s Building Performance with Energy Star program, and the Greenprint Performance Index, and is gaining popularity. Other groups such as the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO), which offers the Green Plumbing and Mechanical Code Supplement, have offered trade-focused model code provisions. The result is a new debate in the nonresidential marketplace over how best to define and verify a building’s greenness.
Some real estate leaders believe the proliferation of green building standards and measures now requires better coordination and compatibility. "You have these different organizations with different structures, and from a practical point of view we don’t want to overburden our development teams, so the more these programs are compatible, the better," says an executive with international real estate development and investment firm, Hines, in an Atlantic article."You want this information to be rational, useful, and consistent."
With so many choices now, developers, owners, and consultants have to be concerned with whether some of the standards overlap, and which third-party program to prioritize. "The USGBC has done an exceptional job of galvanizing the world about sustainable building," says an executive with Colliers International. "But there are more competing interests now, so there is a true dilemma about what’s the best program to follow."
A land use attorney remarked that LEED is still a strong brand, and a marketing tool with strong resonance among commercial clientele. Still, the federal government’s current evaluation of various green standards, including the possible development of its own, shows that the definition of “sustainability” is open to wide interpretation.
NOTE:This information is the opinion of the author/blogger and not the official position of IAPMO.