MA Testifies Before GSA's Green Building Advisory Committee

A member of the Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association (PIMA) Board of Directors testified today at GSA’s Green Building Advisory Committee Public Meeting and voiced serious concerns about some of the proposals dealing with material avoidance in LEED 2012 that fly in the face of building science.

PIMA Board Member and the Codes and Standards Advocate for Bayer MaterialScience Jerry Phelan, questioned whether or not GSA should be recommending green building rating systems that fail to meet true consensus requirements, as directed by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

The Association’s testimony offered support of Green Globes as an alternative to LEED but voiced concern over the addition of the Living Building Challenge and the proposed LEED 2012. In addition, the Association recommended several additional LEED alternatives, including ASHRAE 189.1: Standard for the Design of High-Performance Green Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings and the IgCC – International Green Construction Code.

“The vetting and implementation of the Living Building Challenge (LBC) falls well short of the benchmarks established by either LEED or Green Globes, with authorship confined to a very small number of individuals and a failure to include many important stakeholders in the process,” said Phelan. “The LBC embraces an unnecessarily exclusionary approach which has demonstrated little or no market acceptance, with only three buildings achieving full LBC certification in the United States.”

PIMA also addressed the “Red Lists” of the Living Building Challenge, which feature materials or products to avoid when building with energy efficiency in mind. The list prohibits the use of broad categories of materials, like halogenated flame retardants. This “Red List” approach, PIMA argued, undermines the long-term value of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA).

“Life Cycle Assessment is considered by building and environmental scientists to be the best approach to assessing environmental impacts,” noted Phelan. “LCA holistically looks at the advantages and disadvantages inherent in all building material choices, but the exclusionary approach advocated by the LBC eliminates reasonable options before they can be evaluated and considered, which reduces flexibility and innovation in building systems.”

The Living Building Challenge “Red List” includes modern building materials currently considered by building professionals to deliver critical performance and environmental benefits. In fact, the list includes materials that are widely used and, in some cases, have been used for many decades in building and construction and other applications.

“PIMA has been dedicated to energy efficiency and sustainability for 25 years, and we are concerned about the impacts of some of these new proposed guidelines,” said Jared Blum, President of PIMA. “While PIMA is excited that the GSA is looking at ways to increase energy efficiency and lessen environmental impact, we want to ensure that the approach to achieve these goals is sound and fair, and will have an overall positive influence.”

About PIMA

For 25 years, the Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association (PIMA) has served as the unified voice of the rigid polyiso industry proactively advocating for safe, cost-effective, sustainable and energy efficient construction. PIMA’s members, who first came together in 1987, include a synergistic partnership of polyiso manufacturers and industry suppliers. Polyiso is one of the Nation’s most widely used and cost-effective insulation products available. To learn more visit www.polyiso.org.

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