by Heather Burns-DeMelo
An article in the NY Times today reports, 'COME January, Connecticut will become the second state, after California, to begin turning its building code green. Even as the law is poised to go into effect, however, building industry officials are calling on the state to turn back."
"The law, adopted in 2007, requires that all privately financed construction with projected costs exceeding $5 million meet standards set by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program, known as LEED. Renovations above $2 million will be similarly affected after Jan. 1, 2010. Residential projects with four or fewer units are exempt."
I'm the first one to admit that change isn't easy. In fact, it's often inconvenient, expensive and fraught with the unknown--which is something that a business owner in a down economy is smart to steer clear of. But does risk mean we are smart not to identify and implement our climate change business strategy? That we don't stretch beyond our comfort zone and in doing so, earn our business a place at the table as an early adopter and even a highly sought after expert? Andrew Hoffman and John Woody, authors of Climate Change: What's Your Business Strategy, published by Harvard Business Press think not.
With the law about to take hold, the argument being put forth by the HBRA and AIA in Connecticut is that LEED language is “awkward,” “unworkable” and “messed up” to the point that builders won't want to build LEED if they don't understand what that means. I have to admit: they have a point.
In fact, it makes me wonder if the law was adopted in 2007, where are the workshops, classes, books, checklists, mentoring programs, and other support needed for a paradigm shift being imposed on an industry? If our government branches intend to impose--they must also educate.
Supposedly, LEED consists of a checklist (HOW to accomplish the things on the list are to a good degree left to interpretation) and come with a project manager to answer questions, but few builders I know who have made use of such limited resources have had anything positive to say about their experience.
In the same way that we standardized driving and made publicly available manuals and training to learn to do it well, our government has the responsibility to provide our builders with the tools they need to get the job done right.
Where to find out more about the "how to" of green building in Connecticut:
The Green Building Initiative - Not LEED, but offers software for environmentally friendly retrofitting and new builds.
CT Green Building Council - Occasional classes held throughout the year.