Skanska pulls out of Chamber of Commerce in protest of anti-LEED initiative

After asking the Chamber of Commerce to reconsider its support for the American High-Performance Building Coalition lobby (AHPBC), Skanska USA has resigned from the board and removed its funding in protest of the Chamber's complicity in effectively curbing LEED sustainable building operations.

The lobbying organization's chemical industry-backed initiative (linked to the Shaheen-Portman Energy Efficiency Bill (S. 761)), opposes the implementation of a more stringent LEED certification program (LEEDv4). If successful, the AHPBC's efforts would essentially ban pro-innovation and voluntary LEED certification by the government.

LEEDv4 places a strong premium on transparency in reporting the chemical composition of building materials. It was approved by 86% of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), an independent organization that maintains and implements the LEED program.

Skanska, a construction firm that has been a strong proponent of the LEED program, believes the AHPBC would significantly undermine progress in environmentally responsible construction and damage LEED's strong contribution to the U.S. economy.

"The Chamber is on the wrong side of this issue, and its support of the AHPBC is misplaced as well as misguided," said Skanska president and CEO Mike McNally. "The U.S. Chamber of Commerce was created to advocate for pro-business policies that create jobs and support our economy. The numbers prove that LEED and green building do just that. Because a few companies don't like the current LEED program, they want to involve the government and create an eniterly new system for government buildings. This is exactly the kind of redundancy and bureaucracy that we pay the Chamber to fight. Rather than support its members, who continually innovate to create new products that straddle the line between responsible and profitable, the Chamber has chosen to support a group of businesses who care more about protecting the status quo. Skanska can no longer lend its support to the Chamber when it does not do right by the community it purports to serve."

The AHPBC, formed approximately one year ago, was initially applauded by the USGBC. In a public statement published July 2012, USGBC senior VP global policy and law Roger Platt said that "we welcome the announcement of the formation of the American High Performance Building Coalition, but as Ronald Reagan once said, we will 'trust but verify.'"

"USGBC knows just how crucial industry participation is to high performance building success," he continued. "The 1.5 million square feet per day of commercial space we certify would not be possible without the full active participation of leading architects, engineers, builders, contractors and product manufacturers. If this coalition is sincere in its interest to advance high-performance buildings over the status quo, we welcome them to the table and sincerely look forward to engaging together to make green buildings more valuable to Americans."

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