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October 18, 2010
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Topics Green

GSA logoLance Davis, director of the sustainability office for the General Services Administration, announced that moving forward, GSA will require all projects to achieve a LEED Gold certification level from through the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification system of the U.S. Green Building Council.

The announcement occurred at the Green Legal Matters conference in New Orleans on Oct. 15.

The construction industry is receiving somewhat mixed economic signals lately. On the good news front, the home building industry which has been mired in recession far longer than the rest of the economy is showing signs of life. Bloomberg reported that sales of new homes climbed in August to a high for the year. The news was tinged with some contrary news that pricing reflected competition from large numbers of foreclosures of existing homes in the marketplace. Bloomberg also reportedly separately that estimates of new home sales for 2010 may increase substantially as well, particularly if Congress extends the tax credit for first-time buyers.

The legal blogosphere has been active the last two weeks with discussion of the recent article in the New York Times critical of LEED. The article in essence uses the example project of the Federal Building in Youngstown, Ohio as a sample for LEED projects that fail to be "green". The Times in particular attacks the actual energy performance of a specific project as an example of why the LEED certified project is not in fact green. Reaction has been varied, from Shari Shapiro pointing out these discussions have been in the mix for some time  to an impassioned, relatively emotional, reaction from Rob Watson, a board member of USGBC and significant national player in the green movement.  Chris Cheatham has pointed out for discussion the interplay between green building success on the one hand and risk associated with projects receiving funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  Before we move on to the bigger picture, the article deserves the specific focus on the example project, called by the Times the "Federal Building", but more properly known as the Nathaniel R. Jones Federal Building and US Courthouse (Youngstown, OH).