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Code War Truce

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Published May 7, 2008 at 11:22 a.m.

Green building is hardly black and white. The national protocols - the so-called LEED standards, for "Leadership in Energy and Design" - don't account for regional nuance.

So, eight years ago, Burlington-based Building for Social Responsibility developed its own standards. The initiative, called Vermont Builds Greener, established region-specific building guidelines for enviro-friendly Vermont houses. In 2005, VBG was linked with "LEED for Homes," a new certification program by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). That union, says Peter Schneider, a project manager for Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, frustrated the VBG folks, who didn't like the national council's top-down strategy.

Now, Schneider says, VBG has parted ways with the council. It's not clear what the Vermont-centric certification guidelines will look like, but the ultimate goal is a statewide green-building standard.

Ironically, USGBC is now planning to roll out its own region-specific LEED program. "We're just trying to create this common standard that folks know they can trust," Schneider says. "Unfortunately, a lot of people are trying to take hold of green building and run with it in different directions."

Indeed, he adds, "It's fairly complicated."