On Monday I wrote about a new report by Environment and Human Health, Inc (EHHI) in which the organization suggests that the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Rating System should include a stronger focus on human health issues. In the report, EHHI makes several recommendations for strengthening the human health focus of the LEED program, including the inclusion of more environmental health experts on the USGBC board.

The USGBC has responded to this report with an open letter to EHHI, asking for their health experts to work with the USGBC to help with the evolution of the LEED program.

Here is an excerpt from the letter:

We could not agree more with the need for serious action on improved indoor air quality. But your report fails to provide a complete picture of how interconnected the built environment and public health truly are.
Since the launch of the first LEED rating system 10 years ago, we have been on a continuous improvement cycle to enhance the LEED system. Our goal is to continually evolve this tool that engages everyone involved with buildings — from the owner to the designer to the manager and the occupants — to act and deliver high performance healthy buildings and communities.
Can LEED as a tool be improved? Yes, always! Does LEED reflect the realities of a voluntary system of change? Yes! In other words, we are always helping to guide the market, balancing forces that want status quo and those that want immediate, far-reaching change. We do not do this work as a government. We do this work as a nonprofit organization, the same as you.
So please help us. The expertise of EHHI could be a rich resource to continue the evolution of LEED. Having the opportunity to work with very well-respected public health experts that have issued the call to arms on chemicals of concern is very exciting to us. We believe that LEED is an appropriate mechanism to move our shared agenda forward.
We’d like to move quickly. Please accept our invitation to meet with us in Washington, D.C., or New Haven, in June, at a time that is convenient. We would like to explore how we might add your specific expertise to the work of the hundreds of volunteer professionals (including noted indoor air quality experts) charged with the ongoing development of LEED. We also believe that a study of LEED buildings, rather than the rating system itself, would clarify many of these benefits. To that end we want to welcome you to join us in studying this issue as part of our Building Performance Partnership.

In the rest of the letter, USGBC CEO Rick Fedrizzi goes on to explain that the LEED rating system does not give priority to energy efficiency over human health issues and that both topics are intertwined. Fedrizzi specifically addresses the statement that a project can earn LEED Platinum certification without earning any points in Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ). While this is true, from a purely mathematical standpoint, Fedrizzi notes that there isn’t a LEED Platinum certified project that has earned this level of certification without IEQ credits.

As a fan of the LEED rating system, I will definitely be watching to see how this progresses. I think that nothing but good can come out of a meeting of minds between these two organizations.

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