a green-colored building
Wonderlane
Not every building that looks green actually is.

Corporations that stand to lose the most from a widespread shift toward genuine green building practices are doing what they can to preserve the status quo. For years they’ve been smearing LEED, or Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, the nation’s preeminent green building certification program. They have lobbied lawmakers to ban the use of LEED certifications for government buildings — and they have succeeded in some states, such as in Maine. And they’ve cooked up their own green-building certification program: Green Globes.

The Sierra Club and Greenpeace are now counterattacking. They’ve launched a new initiative, Greenwash Action, to expose the forces behind Green Globes. From a Greenwash Action report:

Green Globes is a creature of the chemical, plastics and conventional timber industries. It is being peddled as a cheaper and easier alternative to the better-known LEED green building rating system, and claims to deliver the same environmental results. But if you really want to understand Green Globes, you need to know who’s behind it.

Green Globes is administered by an organization called the Green Building Initiative (GBI). Not only have the chemical, plastics and timber industries stacked GBI’s board of directors, their relative handful of “members and supporters” are mostly entities from the same industries that pay-to-play as much as $50,000 a year. These include trade associations and lobbying groups like the American Forest & Paper Association, The Vinyl Institute, the American Chemistry Council, and the Society of the Plastics Industry that are themselves funded by the huge and powerful corporations whose interests underlie Green Globes and drive its agenda.

Lloyd Alter of Treehugger, who has been tracking the attacks on LEED for years, says the environmentalists’ efforts to defend LEED “will be an uphill struggle.”

“I wish Greenwash Action had a larger backing than just Greenpeace and the Sierra Club, who will be immediately labelled as lefty treehuggers,” he writes. “But somebody has to do this.”