The green building movement has been at the forefront of new construction over the last decade, and continues to be a major priority for development officials across the country. There are currently over 16,500 Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certified commercial buildings in the United States, accounting for over 2.1 million square feet of commercial space. According to the U.S. Green Building Council, there are also over 39,000 LEED-certified residential units. The success of the program, which sets standards for sustainably constructed buildings, naturally has multinational corporations concerned about their profits.
Care2.com, a site dedicated to advancing social causes, reports that many companies in the timber, plastics and chemical industries are trying to create alternative certifications with different standards for what qualifies as "green building". Of course, these new systems are much more generous in handing out designations, with more lax rules about where materials can be procured and how they are manufactured.
Even worse, the industry is pushing some states to effectively ban LEED certification. According to Mother Jones, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia have put in place new laws and executive orders that prevent developers from seeking any green construction designations that are not approved by the state. Although they don't specifically mention LEED, it is the obvious target of the new laws.
If there is a silver lining, it's the fact that these efforts to undo progress in the area of sustainable building are largely limited to specific geographic areas, and have been less successful in other parts of the country. As more structures are built with LEED certification, policy makers in the South can take note of the numerous economic and environmental advantages that green construction presents.