Market manipulation by US Green Building Council benefits a select few

Sen Doug Whitsett

by Sen. Doug Whitsett

The US Green Building Council is a non-profit, non-government tax exempt organization that claims to promote sustainability in how buildings are designed, built and operated. The Council created the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification standards for the construction of sustainable green buildings.

All across the nation, LEED standards are coming under long-overdue critical evaluation. People are beginning to understand that the regulations that mandate LEED standards in public construction projects represent little more than social engineering. The arbitrary LEED preferences, designed by the Council, are being enforced in the construction of schools, hotels, offices and government buildings throughout America.

There are a number of problems with LEED standards. Not least, green building marketers, along with complicit bureaucrats, are being allowed to override the knowledge and interests of those who actually know how to manage forestland. Most objectionable is the Council’s rejection of most of Oregon’s forest resources for points in LEED’s scoring driven system.

Oregon has nearly 30 million acres of forestland. Less than one half of one percent of that forestland, about 137,000 acres, is recognized as sustainable by the Forest Stewardship Council. The LEED standard only deems timber “certified” by the Forest Stewardship Council as sustainable.

Lumber milled from forest products that are not ‘certified” are very difficult to use in LEED building projects. Obviously, this arbitrary designation severely limits the amount of Oregon timber eligible for the “credits” that enable a business to participate in a LEED construction project. The cost of LEED buildings can only be driven sharply higher by this artificial limiting of “certified” building supplies.

The American Tree Farm System and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative are alternative sustainability organizations. Both organizations classify approximately 30 times more Oregon forestland as being sustainable than the Forest Stewardship Council. A great deal more affordable Oregon lumber could be used in “green” building projects if these organizations were treated equally by LEED standards.

The production costs for Oregon tree farmers and the businesses that sell wood products are dependent upon the terrain and the climate where they operate. Cost effective forest management in western Oregon is significantly different than on the high desert eastern Oregon plateau. Their costs are also driven by the size of their budgets and the shifting preferences of their customers. Due to these numerous variables, many Oregon companies would benefit from a more flexible regulatory framework than the current LEED standard.

EconSTATS, a research group located at George Mason University, has estimated the costs of forcing state landowners to manage their land according to the Forest Stewardship Council standards. They concluded the mandates cost as many as 31,000 jobs.

That is not surprising. A one-size-fits-all solution does not work in any industry. It certainly does not fit the forest products industry that grows timber under all kinds of geographical and climatic conditions.

Many state and national organizations, including Oregon AFL-CIO, Oregon Farm Bureau, and National Association of State Foresters, are “on the record” calling for equal recognition of certified timber products. The fact that the US Green Building Council has ignored them all certainly suggests that the organization may have a different agenda.

Their agenda appears to be focused on restricting the amount of harvestable timber available for LEED projects while at the same time “certifying” the product of selected growers. Their actions undoubtedly both intensify the demand and improve the prices for their “certified” products.

LEED appears to arbitrarily select winners and losers, being little more than a government sanctioned market manipulation program. Citizens should recognize the damage this social engineering scheme is causing and encourage elected leaders to reject the Council’s LEED standards.

Senator Doug Whitsett is the Republican state senator representing Senate District 28 – Klamath Falls

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Posted by at 06:22 | Posted in Natural Resources, Timber | 21 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Job One

    DougFir, you may be embarking up a wrong tree – fore, if you bark at the sheeples bleatz , t’witz their resonance to DNP assays: ram your insolence up udder dolts, butt not theirs. Hokay?

  • Bob Clark

    This is one of several reasons why the public school building dollar, particularly in the case of Portland Public Schools, doesn’t go very far. PPS is spending more than $400 per square foot or more to rebuild three high schools, versus like $200 per square foot for commercial office buildings. The other reason is prevailing wage laws, which just incite a race to raise wages and salaries for public projects.

  • Jack Lord God

    LEED has come under some scrutiny in recent years, and rightly so.

    The US Green Building Council, which set the LEED standards is a private organization, subject to zero regulation or oversight, accountable to no one.

    It is elitism in it’s purest form. A private body sets the rules it prefers, a government body converts the rules into regulations, which have the effect of law, without any sort of vote of the people or any redress possible. The regulations are enforced with the result being de facto rule by a star chamber.

    Sound good?

    What needs to change is there needs to be some responsibility for the costs of LEED regulations.

    Step 1 – Green activists are notorious for asking others to take responsibility for their actions but taking no responsibility for their own. John Kerry recently remarked “what is we are wrong on global warming, what’s the worst that could happen?” In other words, Kerry had no concept or concern of the cost he was imposing on everyone else. Those costs amounting to a hell of a lot of wasted money if he was wrong.

    The same thing attends here. If the USGBC sets the standard, then USGBC should accept the responsibility. If their standard are to be implemented in a local building code USGBC should have to post a bond just as builders have to post a bond. If their standards cause a loss, such as all the extra money spent to meet LEED standards not causing enough energy savings to offset them, then USGBC needs to accept responsibility for that by attaching their bond.

    Step 2 – Start being honest that a lot of LEED standards are just about crony capitalism. Recognizing only 0.5% of Oregon forest land as sustainable is bullshit and simply a way to force premium prices for well connected landowners. It’s the equivalent of the TESLA car subsidies or windmills and GE. Wealth transfer from the taxpayer to well connected individuals.

    Step 3 – Stop glibly accepting asinine green energy programs when they only apply to public building. Those affect you. You are paying for this idiocy. You are the boob paying for $10,000 in solar panels to light a buss stop shelter that at best uses $50 worth of electricity in a year. Realize that every time one of these dopey projects comes along, you are the one paying for it. Start being honest about it with your friends. Don’t be shy about openly mocking the welfare queen who slaps up the solar panels with taxpayer subsidy, that’s your money. You should be no less upset with them than you would be the family who drinks beer and watches TV all day waiting for the government check.

  • Sally

    Here is the problem. We are killing our mother, the earth. If we need to spend extra money to save her. Isn’t it worth it?
    I ask you.
    We now have less than 500 days to save our planet from global catastrophe. The earth is warming to the point of no return. Already the seas are rising. And why? Because of greed, ignorance, and waste.
    Please, join me and millions of others as we love our mother and try to save her.
    I bought a Prius and I turned offf mymaircinditiner at home.
    What have you done????

    • Myke

      I’ll tell you what I didn’t do. I didn’t buy a car that uses rare earth elements that cost more to extract and creates more environmental harm, both in the extraction process and in the recycling of it’s component parts, and that runs on disguised fossil fuels, electricity doesn’t come from thin air, and then tout my superiority over others in spite of the clear evidence of my ignorance of the environmental impact of my purchase. I didn’t buy a car that doesn’t meet it’s advertised ‘mileage’ standards, and who’s projected lifespan is half that of a conventional vehicle before its main component of propulsion, a battery system, has to be swapped for an equally hazardous component based on the same rare earth elements that made the first component a bad idea.

      Additionally, I didn’t install an air conditioner in the first place, and then have the gall to question others, as though my decision to ‘turn it off’ had some measure of nobility, verses actually removing and disposing of said air conditioner, thereby, creating a permanence to this decision to for go the luxury of this modern convenience when its actually to hot to bare.

      And lastly, I do have an understanding that pigs are smart enough to NOT defecate where they eat and sleep, but in the grand scheme of things, they’re still pigs. Hypocrite!

      • Sally

        I was going to get rid of the air conditioner entirely but when it hits 90 around here I can’t sleep. So, in an emergency I will use it, but only at night when I need to sleep.
        My Prius gets 49 to 51 on a regular basis, so that seems to be within advertised limits. Not sure why you are so upset. If mother did not want us to mine rare earths minerals, she would have taken action already to prevent it.
        She is more powerful than you might suspect.
        Plus, I,take light rial sometimes and leave the Prius at home, which really helps our mother, the earth.
        Please wake up and join us before it really is too late.
        497 days now remain.

        • Myke

          The ignorance of your own pretentiousness is freaking astounding! But then, I live in Oregon where an attitude such as yours is as rampant as the youthful panhandlers who have neither the age nor experience to be begging.

          Here’s a little advise, lady. Don’t worry about “our mother”, she’ll be fine. We may be dead and gone, but she’ll recover. Right up to that moment that the sun expands as a red giant, consuming the four inner planets, and then recedes into a white dwawf. Nothing is permanent. Not this life, not this planet, and thank God, not self-righteous, hypocritical twits like you. See you in the funny papers in 498 days.

      • guest


    • MrBill97702

      500 days huh? Where did that come from?

      • .

        A post-it card from hUranus.

      • Jack Lord God

        A few weeks back, when John Kerry was on tour with the dopey AGW routine, he met with the French Foreign minister.

        At that point the foreign minister announced we had 500 days to avoid, as he put it, climate chaos.

        Personally I kind of like the idea of a defined climate chaos point. I kind of imagine Siegfried and the rest of Kaos from Get Smart all running around with a funny secret evil plan. John Kerry swoops in and saves the day by boring the villains to death.

        • Sally

          That is where I got my information. The French are pretty smart and if one of them says 500 days I am inclined to believe. After all, why would anyone say something like that if it wasn’t true. They would be a fool and laughing stock in less than 2 years if they are wrong.
          And the sun will not go big on us for at least another 2.5 to 3 billion years, so that is not a very good argument for not saving the earth. Remember the moon is slowly moving away from the earth, too, each year. But that doesn’t mean we should stop caring about our future on this little marble of beauty.
          All I know is that the French man is right. We now have only 495 days or so to stop the earth for warming to a point of no return. We must take decisive action NOW. John Kerry said it best – what will happen if we are wrong? But we can not take that chance.

          • J. Parody

            Blather than ‘kook’ at the skies or even sea level, ‘opine’ your eyes to what’s down below …and hello: Mother Earth’s core radiates with UNIVERSAL evidence our spaceship’s boiler room temp maybe a root cause for climate change, biScottie!

            Now go back and play with your d’oh mates you ‘tribbling’ character – and, take all DEMclingon goreons, et al, along mit das Messerschmidt’s ‘n Fokker’s, wing-nuts attending you., FOOL!

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