Federal LEED requirement under fire

May 23, 2012 |
Lynne Simnick

The General Services Administration, which manages most of the federal government’s building projects, requires that all of new projects be LEED Gold-certified, but some lawmakers and industry groups—PVC pipe manufacturers and the wood industry, for example—want to change that.

PVC pipe manufacturers are upset that a LEED proposal would encourage contractors to avoid using PVC pipes. The PVC industry argues that its product has sustainability advantages—it does not require energy-intensive mineral extraction and processing, nor does it corrode like copper and steel.

Use of sustainable wood earns only two points—and only for furniture. To earn LEED points, wood must be certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, which certifies wood from more than 50 countries. In 2010, 79 lawmakers sent a letter to the Green Building Council objecting to what they said was the exclusion of domestic sources of wood from the LEED rating system.

While LEED accepts only Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood products, the Green Building Initiative’s Green Globes system does not rely on any one certification. The government is reviewing how it will measure the sustainability of new buildings for the next five years, and issues such as PVC piping and domestic wood could spur the use of LEED alternatives on federal projects.


NOTE:This information is the opinion of the author/blogger and not the official position of IAPMO.

Lynne Simnick | Codes and Standards

Lynne Simnick is the Director of Code Development for the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) and is responsible for the supervision and oversight of the creation and maintenance of all IAPMO codes and code supporting documents. Ms. Simnick has more than twenty-eight years experience in the plumbing industry including code development, education and training, plan review and evaluation services. Prior to joining IAPMO, Simnick worked as technical staff in engineering services, educator, inspector and plumber. She has a Bachelors of Science Degree in Education and Mechanical Engineering Technology. Simnick has authored many technical articles, participated in numerous standards committees with an expertise in code and standards development.

Ms. Simnick may be contacted at IAPMO, 909-472-4110 or email lynne.simnick@IAPMO.org

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