October 8, 2007
Letters to the Editor
7 World Trade Center
New York, NY 10007
To whom it may concern:
As president of the Green Building Initiative (GBI), I read with interest Anya Kamenetz's article, titled "The Green Standard?" in your October issue. Like the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), GBI is a non-profit organization that promotes environmental assessment and rating systems for residential and commercial buildings. However, because we're more focused on bringing green to the mainstream, we place an emphasis on systems that are practical and affordable, such as Green Globes.
There is no question that the USGBC deserves credit for placing sustainable design and construction on our nation's social agenda. Several years ago, "green building" was little more than a catchphrase. Today it's the most notable trend in residential and commercial construction, in part because of their efforts.
As the article pointed out, the USGBC's rating systems, like ours and others, have shortcomings. But I think it missed the larger point—which is that rating systems are collectively accelerating the trend toward a greener built environment, and competition among them must be encouraged.
As in other sectors, healthy competition drives improvements, lowers costs and benefits the ultimate consumer, which in this case is our shared environment. But the market also needs a variety of options that accommodate a full range of budgets and building types, as well as the individual preferences of architects, builders and others in a position to influence the adoption of sustainable building practices.
This is why the recent push by some municipal, state and federal governments to mandate the use of LEED through legislation, regulation and incentives, to the exclusion of other credible rating systems, is so troubling. It stifles competition and reduces the options available, particularly to mainstream practitioners.
I hope to see you tackle other construction sustainability issues in future issues, but in the meantime, if you would like additional information about the GBI, please visit our Web site at www.thegbi.org.