Why Skanska dropped its membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to protest proposed changes to LEED in government buildings

Today Skanska resigned as a member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to protest the organization’s backing of a chemical industry-led initiative to effectively ban the future use of LEED for government buildings. The initiative, linked to the lobbying efforts related to the Shaheen-Portman Energy Efficiency Bill (S. 761), threatens to halt years of progress in energy-efficient and environmentally responsible construction.

Sustainability is one of Skanska’s core values. And we will not be a part of an organization that supports the American High-Performance Building Coalition (AHPBC), which harbors the American Chemistry Council and opposes the implementation of a new, stronger LEED certification program (LEEDv4). LEEDv4 encourages transparency in reporting the chemical composition of building materials, something we at Skanska think is essential for anyone wanting to build responsibly.

The LEED program is the most recognized and widely used green building program globally. It is maintained and implemented by the independent U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) through a public and transparent comment and balloting process engaging a diverse group of nearly 13,000 members, who voted last week in favor of LEEDv4.

We have asked the Chamber to reconsider its support of the chemical lobby, whose anti-LEED stance would:

– Significantly undermine the LEED program

– Impact more than 196,000 LEED Accredited Professionals

– Cripple the progress of environmentally responsible construction across the country.

The Chamber is on the wrong side of this issue, and its support of the AHPBC is misplaced as well as misguided. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce was created to advocate for pro-business policies that create jobs and support our economy. The numbers prove that LEED and green building do just that. Because a few companies don’t like the current LEED program, they want to involve the government and create an entirely new system for government buildings. This is exactly the kind of redundancy and bureaucracy that we pay the Chamber to fight.

Michael McNally

Michael McNally

President and CEO, Skanska USA

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{ 13 comments… add one }
  • Vincent McMullen July 9, 2013, 1:37 pm

    Being a good business means having a conscience.

  • Gary Wiggins July 9, 2013, 6:58 pm

    Dear Mr. McNally,
    I just happened upon your article this afternoon. It was interesting for me to find that I am the very first comment regarding your company’s choice to support LEEDv4 over the Chamber of Commerce. Do you suppose this lack of immediate response might indicate that there are others out there thinking that LEEDv4 has gone too far? I am not a LEED Professional, but am from a Timber dependent community that has learned (i.e. Spotted Owl and Clinton era Roadless Rules) that the environmental community often does go too far. Best wishes to you! Gary

  • Kathy A Dietrich, AIA LEED AP BC+C July 10, 2013, 12:23 pm

    Thank you Skanska for supporting environmental responsible construction!

  • Barry Giles July 11, 2013, 4:17 pm

    My compliments Mr. McNally on this blog. Skanskas’ stand on this issue is vital and I fully support you and your team.

  • LB Hall July 11, 2013, 4:27 pm

    Thank you for speaking up on this issue. As a taxpayer, I want federal building built to the highest energy standards possible. I also want to know that those buildings will have the best air quality possible.

  • Russell Perry, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C July 11, 2013, 7:41 pm

    Mr. McNally,

    Thanks for this act of resolve and commitment. The ACC has been hiding behind the cynically-named AHPBC while it worked to kill LEED. The world has more hopeful prospects because of LEED and efforts to lessen its impact need to be stopped and the people behind them held accountable. The US Chamber of Commerce should be ashamed. Thank you for your courage.

  • NATAN Cohen July 11, 2013, 8:52 pm

    Thank you so much for doing the rightvthing. Hopefully many more companies will follow you and voice their concerns as well…

  • Robert W July 26, 2013, 2:59 pm

    Thank you for your support of LEED and better building practices. Your final paragraph is a perfect illustration that decisions made inside the D.C. beltway tend to be careless and self-serving, at best. I’m glad Skanska envisions a successful business environment that demands improved living and working conditions and energy efficiencies that LEED helps to foster.

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