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Is the U.S. Green Building Council Becoming a Not-So-Jolly Green Giant?

Friday ForumAs folks who travel in sustainability circles know well, the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design green rating system, better known as LEED® certification, is far and away the industry leader when it comes to validating green construction projects.  Developed by the Washington, D.C. non-profit the U.S. Green Building Council (“USGBC”), LEED had been used to certify the green bona fides of more than 55,000 projects around the world as of October 2013; by way of comparison, a rival system, Green Globes, had been used for just 850.

My Twitter feed has featured a series of “good news” chirps for USGBC lately.  For example, about a month ago, the agency touted its release of the 2013 Top Ten States for LEED (North Carolina cracked the top ten at #7):

Locally, Barnhill Contracting promoted a Triangle Business Journal slideshow featuring some high-profile Triangle projects to obtain LEED certification recently:

But another series of tweets reveals that the USGBC is facing unprecedented challenges that call into question its continued dominance of the rating system marketplace.  As best as I can tell, these challenges fall into three categories: (1) its competitor, Green Globes, is starting to make inroads; (2) some state legislatures are seeking to ban use of LEED on public construction projects; and (3) the adoption of green building codes by state and local governments calls into question the value of voluntary rating systems like LEED and Green Globes altogether.

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