As the LEED green building rating system grows in popularity, so, too, do the number of challenges to it. Just this week USGNN.com™ ran a story about a proposed ban on LEED in Ohio, and ENR reported that plastics manufacturers are pushing back on LEED legally. They oppose that LEED has established a “new credit that discourages the use of some products USGBC deems harmful to the environment.”
Since Ohio has a large chemical and plastics industry, they’re lobbying for an open discussion about how their products are considered under LEED. They’re claiming USGBC “closed them out of truly open consensus process in the new LEED’s development.”
That sounds familiar; some of the same arguments were made regarding NFRC’s CMA process. Now, someone with a lot bigger stick is jumping in to see if they can out-distance the impact of LEED. That’s one way of going about it, obviously.
While getting USGBC to open up the process, wouldn’t it also behoove the chemical and plastics industry to spend just as much effort to make their products more recyclable? Granted, there’s hardly anything you can buy that’s made of plastic that doesn’t have the recycle triangle on it. And, there are a lot of products that claim to be made from recycled plastics.
But, can the recycled plastics be recycled themselves? It’s my understanding that plastics are not easily recycled into their previous form, but instead the recycled plastic is downgraded to lesser forms, use, or performance. This is as opposed to glass, aluminum, and steel, which can be recycled and re-used in their original form any number of times with little or no degradation of performance, strength, etc. Now there’d be a technology (plastics recycling) I can point my grand-kids to if they’re interested in breaking into something new. Or would it? Anybody remember the one-word advice Dustin Hoffman’s character got upon graduation from college in “The Graduate?”
A quote from John F. Kennedy about nuclear weapons reduction can be applied to the environmental issues in front of us: “Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.”
A longer perspective on all of our parts can only help reach meaningful, manageable solutions. Open LEED up to all the players, guys. It’ll pay off in the end for us all. A lot of work to do in the meantime, no doubt.