Last week USGBC President and CEO Rick Fedrizzi emailed many people within the USGBC network, mentioning something about committees and the American Chemistry Council (ACC). If you took this to be some corporate announcement, I suggest reading again. It represents a major breakthrough and lift for LEED.
Until recently, the ACC saw LEED and USGBC as a significant threat to its members. And it put lobbying resources behind its concerns—spending over $12 million last year alone. A very formidable opponent indeed.
While a staff attorney at the New York City Council, I led negotiations on Local Law 86, which mandated that new city capital projects be LEED certified. Green Globes had just emerged, and I was perplexed when ACC’s representative (a former senior City Council staffer) proposed that the city adopt this totally new standard alongside LEED. Aside from delaying passage of the law a few months, the ACC wasn’t successful in NYC. But we were just an early stop on a long campaign by ACC and others.
With funding by the ACC and American Forest Producers Association, Green Globes grew, and lobbyists pushed the standard along with anti-LEED legislation in Congress, statehouses, and cities for over a decade. Maps of their efforts look like the spread of some terrible plague. USGBC’s hardworking advocacy staff and local USGBC chapters have been kept very busy heading off these efforts in a game of whack-a-mole.
Rick’s announcement means the ACC and USGBC have found a way to work together. And why shouldn’t they? LEED is driving an industry that consumes lots of the chemicals ACC’s members produce. And ACC’s members are providing essential ingredients for core green building products, be they window films or the latest Passive House tape.
Let’s hope not only that the peace prevails, but that the partnership opens a new door to advancements in green building.