Mandates Not the Solution to “Green” Buildings

Mandates Not the Solution to “Green” Buildings

Competition in Standards Benefits Municipalities, Taxpayers
May 12, 2005

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<?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Richard Morrison, 202.331.2273


Washington, D.C., May 12, 2005—The increasing interest in environmentally conscious building methods around the country is being threatened by a move by municipalities to legislate a single set of standards. In a new policy brief released today by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, analyst Todd Myers argues that competing sets of standards and certification systems offer localities and individuals the best set of opportunities.


Jurisdictions across the United States are enacting laws and executive orders requiring that all new government buildings be built to meet “green building” standards designed by the U.S. Green Building Council. Governments at all levels are promoting the standards, known as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) as a one-size-fits-all strategy to make government buildings more environmentally friendly.


“Rather than mandating such standards, governments should allow the ongoing development of a competitive system for voluntary green building standards,” writes Myers. “LEED mandate advocates seem to believe that without government pressure the standards would not develop or be used. Yet interest in green standards and competition to develop them already exists,” writes analyst Todd Myers.


The LEED model faces competition from environmental building standards created by the National Association of Home Builders, as well as some builders who are freely combining elements of both.


“A dynamic market process will enable standards to continually improve by responding to the needs of consumers and builders, adjusting to new technology and experience, using competition to promote a variety of approaches,” continues Myers. “In addition, a voluntary approach empowers individuals to assess those standards’ effectiveness and choose, when, how, and whether to employ them.”


Todd Myers is Director of the Center for Environmental Policy, a project of the Washington Policy Center.


CEI is a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government.