Construction and development company Skanska has resigned as a member of the US Chamber of Commerce to protest the organization’s backing of a chemical industry-led initiative to effectively ban the future use of the LEED green building certification for government buildings.
Skanska says that the initiative, which is linked to the lobbying efforts related to the Shaheen-Portman Energy Efficiency Bill (S. 761), threatens to halt years of progress in energy efficient and environmentally responsible construction.
Skanska says sustainability is one of its core values and, because of this, it refuses to be a part of an organization that supports the American High-Performance Building Coalition, which includes the American Chemistry Council and, according to Skanska, opposes the implementation of LEED v4 — a more stringent LEED certification program.
LEED v4 encourages transparency in reporting the chemical composition of building materials, something that the construction firm calls “essential for anyone wanting to build responsibly.”
As a result, Skanska has asked the Chamber to reconsider its support of the chemical lobby, whose anti-LEED stance would, according to the construction company:
- Significantly undermine the LEED program.
- Affect more than 196,000 LEED accredited professionals.
- Cripple the progress of environmentally responsible construction across the US.
Skanska says that the Chamber was created to advocate for pro-business policies that create jobs and support the economy. The company says LEED and green building do “just that.”
The US Green Building Council voted to approve LEED v4 less than two weeks ago. It is slated to launch this fall.
The next-generation LEED program includes more options for projects outside of the US, compared to LEED 2009, and has been expanded to more market sectors, such as data centers, warehouses and distribution centers.
Another LEED v4 change includes allocating about 20 percent of all points to optimizing energy performance over the ASHRAE 90.1-2010, a move that would do more to help curb carbon emissions than any LEED rating system in its 12-year history, according to the USGBC.