News broke last month that the U.S. Green Building Council and the American Chemistry Council will be working together to improve LEED, the foremost green building certification system. That’s a partnership that personally matters a lot to me.
Creating buildings that have minimal environmental impacts – and that even seek to improve the health of those living and working inside – requires more than just inspired clients, designers and builders. Doing so also requires manufacturers that are committed to producing harm-free building materials.
But as you may recall, for too long the chemistry council had been working against LEED, believing that material transparency requirements in the recent LEED version 4 might result in fewer chemicals used in buildings. Last year, a group affiliated with the ACC – and supported by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – proposed language that would effectively ban the use of LEED in federal buildings, unless certain chemical-related LEED provisions were removed.
What a difference a year makes. In this new partnership, LEED will benefit from the materials expertise of ACC and its member companies. We believe this has the potential to be transformational. And it’s much more than we hoped for last year, when Skanska publicly pulled out of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to protest its support of the chemistry council’s activities.
That powerful chemical companies with their sizeable research and development budgets are working for LEED, rather than against, is tremendous. When companies like those get behind green, it should really propel green building materials forward – and help others see that doing what’s good for a sustainable future is generally good business.
The USGBC refers to LEED as a big tent in which all are welcome. There’s no better example of that than this partnership.
About the Author
Michael McNally is President and CEO of Skanska USA. He is one of nine members of Skanska AB’s Senior Executive Team responsible for Skanska’s global operations. As President and CEO of Skanska USA Inc., he is directly responsible for Skanska USA Building, which specializes in building construction and Skanska USA Civil, which is focused on civil infrastructure. He also drives integration efforts beyond construction across all US business units including commercial and infrastructure development. More on McNally.