The Signal: News and Notes from the Pharos Team

Skanska dumps US Chamber in favor of transparency and green chemistry

Susan Sabella July 9th, 2013

In case you missed it, an incredible development took place this morning:  Skanska USA -- a subsidiary of the $19.7 billion Swedish construction company, Skanska AB -- withdrew its membership from the US Chamber of Commerce.

Very few corporations this large have dared to buck the Chamber with statements this bold: "Rather than support its members, who continually innovate to create new products that straddle the line between responsible and profitable, the Chamber has chosen to support a group of businesses who care more about protecting the status quo," said Mike McNally, President and CEO of Skanska USA.

Skanska USA said it has "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 lobbying efforts by the chemical industry related to the Shaheen-Portman Energy Efficiency Bill (S. 761), threatens to halt years of progress in energy-efficient and environmentally responsible construction."

Last year, the US Chamber, American Chemistry Council, and other lobbying outlets for the chemical industry created an alternative to the US Green Building Council, which they called the American High Performance Building Coalition.

The AHPBC claims that the LEED revision process is not transparent or consensus-based. But the real goal of the AHPBC and its members is to undermine LEED credits that encourage (but not require) the disclosure of chemical ingredients in building products, and the avoidance of some endocrine-disrupting chemicals including some phthalates and flame retardants. And these credits reward products whose ingredients have been assessed for chemical hazards. The transparent, consensus-based process used by the USGBC is not producing the outcomes that these trade associations want, and usually get, on Capitol Hill.

Last week, USGBC members voted overwhelmingly for LEED v4, which includes credits that reward chemicals avoidance and disclosure.

“Skanska invites the Chamber and the AHPBC to a public discussion in any forum of the issues at stake, including LEED’s consensus-based voting process, the value of green building to the nation’s economy, and the potential health benefits of building with materials resulting from green chemistry,” said McNally.

Click here to read the press release in full.

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Susan Sabella, Operations Director of the Healthy Building Network, manages the work of the Pharos team and relations with manufacturers and partners.

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