Ohioans Stand Up To Out Of State Special Interests

The Fight to Protect Ohio’s Green Schools Contact: Tyler Steele Tel.: 614-638-3477 Email: tylerjsteele@gmail.com

Columbus, OH -- On Tuesday, February 4th, a diverse group of Ohioans stood up to special interest lobbyists at the Ohio Statehouse to protect a state policy that prudently invests tax dollars into public school buildings that are 35% more efficient, use 37% less water than buildings built to previous standards, diverted over 188,000 tons of construction waste from landfills, and sourced 35% of their materials from regional sources, benefitting the region’s economy while curbing transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions. "Ohioans need to be aware of the better buildings, engaged students and Ohio jobs being created by our successful LEED schools program. We will not stand by as our responsible stewardship of tax dollars is cast aside by powerful, well-funded special interests,” explains Tyler Steele, Vice-Chair of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Central Ohio Chapter. Ohio is #1 in the U.S. in green school construction thanks to state policy for new public school buildings to earn minimum LEED silver certification. A small but well-funded faction of vinyl, plastic, chemical, and other carbon-intensive industries argue that the latest evolution of LEED, called “v4,” puts them at a competitive disadvantage. They complained that LEED v4 creates a “blacklist” of certain products that unfairly discriminates against their stuff. The only problem: The blacklist doesn’t exist. Michael Huff, an architect from Ruetschle Architects of Dayton, testified, “If I were designing a project to be certified under LEED V4, I would be free to choose the best available products to fit the owner’s needs and budget. If vinyl flooring and windows are the best option to meet the owner’s needs then that is what we specify… There is no mandate or prohibition for any product. Installing specific products does not prevent a building from achieving LEED certification.” Huff designed the 217,000 sq. ft, PK-12 LEED Gold building for Milton-Union Exempted Village Schools—a school that uses only $0.84 per square foot per year (a 40 percent improvement over typical energy use for buildings of similar size and shape). The industry groups complain that LEED v4 doesn’t meet “American National Standards Institute voluntary consensus standard procedures.”  However, an independent, multi- year study commissioned by the United States General Services Administration and prepared by division of Battelle, confirms that LEED is indeed a “consensus” standard. David Brehm, a principal architect from NBBJ in Ohio, testified on behalf of the American Institute of Architects in Ohio, “In response to the claim in SCR 25 that LEED is not science-based, we point to our own expertise and experience – expertise that has been appropriately represented in LEED’s consensus development process – and also to the National Academy of Sciences which, in a 2013 study, endorsed the use of LEED for public buildings and military facilities.” The special interests from Washington also complained that their concerns weren’t heard during the LEED v4 development process.  In reality, their own literature details their extensive input into LEED v4, which was approved only after an unprecedented six comment periods resulting in over 22,000 public comments, with 86% of overall membership in favor of adoption, including majority approval from each major stakeholder group (89% of producers/contractors/builders, 90% of users, and 77% in the general interest category of utilities, manufacturers and organizations). Additional testimony came from David Scott, Board Member of the Central Ohio Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC); Brendan Owens from USGBC National; Dr. Virginia Rammel, Superintendent of Milton-Union Exempted Village Schools; Jessica Ferguson, student and upcoming valedictorian for Milton-Union; Karen Joslin from Ohio-based Joslin Construction Consulting; Neil Beup from United Technologies Corporation (representing “the over 1400 UTC employees and their families in Ohio”); and Tim Conway from Shaw Floors.