• Credit: LEED logo

JLC Online reported last month on moves in Kansas and Florida to stop planners from applying the LEED standard to state building projects ("Brown Backlash: Kansas Moves To Prohibit Sustainability"). Now, the effort is being echoed in the North Carolina legislature.

The rationale for curbing LEED in North Carolina is the same as in Florida: Lumber interests say that there's not enough "certified" sustainable lumber produced in North Carolina to meet the need for construction projects. And they argue that local in-state lumber producers who don't participate in the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) certification program required by the LEED standard shouldn't be excluded from state-financed projects.

The Charlotte Business Journal has this report ("Anti-LEED bill goes before NC House today," by Susan Stabley.) "The bill — titled Protect/Promote NC Lumber — says major public facility construction and renovation projects may use 'a nationally recognized high-performance environmental building rating system' if that green building program doesn't use a credit system 'disadvantaging materials or products manufactured or produced' in North Carolina," the Business Journal reports.

"It's not calling LEED by name," Emily Scofield, USGBC-NC executive director, told the Charlotte Business Journal after the bill was introduced. "But it's anti-LEED."

The Charlotte News-Observer is also covering the story ("NC House bill would end LEED certifications for state government buildings," by John Murawski). Says the story: "The state's timber industry can't bid on many state construction projects because tree farms in the state typically don't meet the LEED sustainable forestry standard, said Weyerhaeuser spokeswoman Nancy Thompson. As a result, building projects in North Carolina seeking the nation's premier green building seal end up sourcing their lumber from other states or even from other countries, supporters said." Less than 1% of North Carolina's timberlands participate in FSC certification, while more than 98% participate in other systems, the report says.

While lumber interests support the measure, Nucor Steel, a structural steel manufacturer headquartered in Charlotte, opposes it, the News-Observer notes. Nucor pioneered a business model using small-scale foundries to produce cold-rolled steel products using recycled scrap iron and steel inputs, and the company's products are typically 90% or more recycled content.

Opponents and supporters of the measure may both be exaggerating its possible impact, Raleigh/Durham station WRAL Channel 5 reported ("Timber interests pitted against green builders," by Mark Binker). "Rep. Chuck McGrady, R-Henderson, said there may be a way to change the bill to satisfy both camps, adding that he hoped that 'cooler minds will come together' when the bill is debated a second time on Thursday," the station reported.