State Building Standards on Energy & Resource Consumption

By Loretta Macktal, Executive Assistant to the Vice President, Government Relations

Capitol Update, Dec. 17, 2004 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

On Tuesday, December 14th, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed an executive order committing the state to taking aggressive action to reduce state building electricity usage and minimize the consumption of resources by adopting, as a minimum goal, the Green Building Council's silver LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standard for all state buildings owned, funded or leased and to encourage cities, counties and schools to do the same.

The goal of the program is laudable. However, CMTA is concerned that the program was adopted without industry input, particularly the material supply community. CMTA believes that with little work, the LEED standards could have been modified to meet California's needs.

For one, the LEED standard, created by the east coast Green Building Council, does not take into consideration California's unique seismic problem. This standard appears to have a strong bias against the use of wood which is used extensively in one and two story construction (studs and framing) and much cheaper and more resilient than concrete and steel in the event of an earthquake.

In addition, California's own Energy Commission (CEC) has energy efficiency recommendations which are in direct conflict to LEED’s direction. For example, the CEC recommends the use of vinyl window framing while LEED’s points are generated using aluminum framing.

A September 2002 study sponsored bythe U.S. Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology was highly critical of certain methodolgies employed in the LEED system for calculating environmental credits. This study came to the conclusion that "LEED does not provide a consistent, organized structure for achievement of environmental goals" and "is not successful at being a comprehensive methodology for assessment of environmental impacts."

Regardless of which materials are selected for the standard, CMTA is dissapointed that it was not given the opportunity to address these problem prior to the proclamation. CalEPA has apparently been working on this project for almost a year. The Governor has previously stated that he wants constituents to be involved in "the process", but industry only got wind of the pending executive order by chance approximately a week before its issuance. Efforts to meet with Cabinet Secretary Terry Tamminen were unsuccessful.
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