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Washington, D.C., November 7, 2007—The U.S. Green Building Council is expected to release its new “green” building standards for residential homes on Thursday, prompting the Competitive Enterprise Institute to caution policymakers against viewing the standards as a starting point for more government mandates.
Currently, the Green Building Council administers a voluntary green certification program for mostly commercial buildings. The so-called Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards are semi-flexible; builders can gain certification by applying some of the guidelines. However, the LEED standards represent just one group’s vision of what is “green.”
“Competition among a variety of green building standards offers the best option for consumers looking to make their homes more energy efficient while still meeting personal needs at reasonable costs,” notes Angela Logomasini, CEI’s Director of Risk and Environmental Policy.
A CEI study on the topic showed that many LEED projects have not produced promised results. Some have even used more energy than similar non-LEED projects, while others have proved unreasonably pricey. Government-mandated residential green building standards could pose the same problems for homebuyers.
“Many of the existing LEED standards come with a high price tag,” notes Logomasini. “Mandating another one-size-fits-all approach will be costly and needlessly deprive consumers of the freedom to determine standards that work best for them. And in some cases, government mandates could price some consumers right out of the home buying market.”
Logomasini says a better approach would be to allow a marketplace for competing standards. Several groups are developing standards to compete with LEED, such as the National Association of Home Builders and the Green Building Initiative. The best system would allow consumers and homebuilders to choose standards or elements that meet individual needs and values.
See also: Green Building Standards: Why Mandating a Good Idea can be Bad Policy by Todd Myers
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Director of Risk and Environmental Policy
CEI is a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government. For more information about CEI, please visit our website at www.cei.org.