LEED Certification Not Required

Planning staff and the Planning Board believes that any requirement for LEED certification of private buildings in the county must be applied countywide, not in a piecemeal fashion in selected locations. The Prince George’s County “Goes Green” Steering Committee is currently considering how to provide incentives for LEED® Silver or a comparable green building standard certification for the construction of private commercial enterprises countywide.

Lead by Example


The Goes Green committee recommends a “lead by example” approach, common throughout many jurisdictions in the country, where public buildings are required to achieve some level of green building rating. Newly constructed county facilities and public buildings (e.g. office buildings, public schools, libraries, fire stations, police stations, and recreational facilities) are required to be built at LEED Silver level or comparable green building standard. These ratings systems are most effective for private development when incentivized. This is a decision which must be made and applied throughout Prince George’s County comprehensively in order to avoid any unintended consequences that could arise from implementing green building regulations for certain geographic areas only.

Redevelopment


Redevelopment of our centers represents an unparallel and unique opportunity to cut down on the harmful environmental impacts of greenhouse gas emissions by focusing on compact, Transit-Oriented Development (TOD). We need as much development interest in the places the code is applied as feasible, and recognition of the gains to sustainability to be made through this type of development.

Impediment or Incentive


However, requiring this certification in advance of any countywide regulation could place these areas at a disadvantage relative to other properties. Requiring LEED certification or some comparable requirement for only the centers and corridor nodes where the code is applied could serve as a possible impediment to development rather than an incentive, actually driving development out of the very places that the county seeks to concentrate it.

Laws


In addition, LEED standards were never intended to be written as laws, which the oversight body, the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) itself recognizes. LEED standards are subject to regular revision and change, and in fact LEED 2009, a comprehensive update of the criteria and standards, is still a work in progress and will amend the very core principles of LEED certification – including the rating system itself, changing from a 69-point system to a 100-point system for the most common rating, New Construction (NC).

LEED Standards


Furthermore, LEED standards should not be a substitute for changes to the building code that are needed in many jurisdictions, including Prince George’s County, to facilitate rather than impede or prevent the use of green building techniques. Again, this is a larger issue which must be considered comprehensively, rather than as part of legislation with applicability to select locations. It should also be noted that LEED® certification is impractical until a building has been in operation for some time, usually around three months, to allow for full evaluation of the building’s mechanical systems.

The Planning Department anticipates that development of these centers and corridor nodes under the code would qualify them for certification under the forthcoming LEED for Neighborhood Development or LEED-ND program which “integrates the principles of smart growth, urbanism and green building into the first national system for neighborhood design.” See the LEED page for more information on this new rating system.