Chris Cheatham provided a brief overview of the impact that future regulation may have on Virginia construction. There are currently 61 LEED certified buildings in the state of Virginia, and there are 498 LEED registered buildings in the works. Cheatham pointed out that William & Mary recently created its own LEED certified building, the recreation center. While LEED certification is catching on, there are currently no formal requirements for Green building in Virginia.
Cheatham discussed how disputes may arise in Green Construction. While some disputes are basic construction issues, others are specific to the value of a Green building. For example, when an owner decides to build a green building, they can promote their LEED registration. If the building later fails to achieve LEED certification, occupants of the buildings may not be satisfied with the ownership. It will be interesting to see how courts decide to resolve disputes over the value of LEED certification. Currently, there is no case law on how these disputes will be settled.
A major issue is how state and local government will develop green building codes. One of the major obstacles for municipalities in Virginia is the Dillon Rule. The Dillon Rule makes building codes the exclusive province of the state government. Other cities around the country have been able to foster unique programs because regulation is not limited to the state level. For example, Portland, Oregon has developed a feebate. For projects that are not designed with environmental conservation in mind, the owner will owe the city a fee. Depending on their LEED ratings, other owners will not only have the fee waived, but they will receive an annual rebate from the city. Washington D.C. is taking another approach. The DC Green Building Act of 2006 mandates that by 2012 all private-owned projects will have to be LEED certified. The enforcement mechanism will be a performance bond that will only be refunded if the building meets LEED certification. Cheatham expects that DC will amend the legislation because of the difficulties of collecting on a performance bond.
Here in Virginia, Governor Tim Kaine has instituted Executive Order 48. The Order mandates that State owned facilities should be designed and constructed consistent with LEED ratings and utilizing Energy Star products. When the 2008 budget was proposed, the General Assembly decided to include an amendment provision that state building should be constructed under LEED or Green Globes standards. At the time Governor Kaine vetoed the inclusion Green Globe standards, but the General Assembly overrode the veto. This year, Governor Kaine has made statements leading Cheatham to believe that the Governor may be willing to put the debate over standards aside in order to pass legislation that will mandate Green building practices. Cities and counties in Virginia are anxious for the state to take action and have even pushed the boundaries of the Dillon rule to pass their own green building provisions. What provisions do you think Virginia will adopt in regard to green construction? How will the cities and counties of Virginia react to the legislature’s decisions?