Washington Legislation Wants to Define “Green” HomesOn March 11, 2010 By Scott Wolfe Jr
My wife and I were looking for condominiums in the Seattle area a few years ago, and every place we inspected marketed themselves as “green built.” Being a LEEP AP, I asked a few questions about what the label meant. Most of the time, it meant nothing.
That’s precisely what a new bill in the Washington legislature is trying to prevent.
Greenwashing (green whitewash) is the practice of companies disingenuously spinning their products and policies as environmentally friendly, such as by presenting cost cuts as reductions in use of resources. It is a deceptive use of green PR or green marketing.
Greenwashing is so serious it has its own Greenwashing Index.
The new bill was introduced just this January 2010 by Senators Becker and Fraser, and requires the state building code council to adopt rules to define “green” home and “energy efficient” home for residential units and residential buildings. It seeks to prohibit builders and developers from marketing or selling a home as “green” or “energy efficient” unless it meets the specifications.
As currently written, the code must be written by December 2012. Thus far, the bill has strong support.
Builders and Developers should keep a close eye on this legislation, especially as they begin new projects in the coming years hoping to market the project to green-seeking buyers.
If the bill passes, it will be interesting to see how the definitions are drafted, and whether they will incorporate already existing certification programs, such as the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED program (as a recent amendment to the bill suggests). Follow the bill at Washington Votes here, or stay tuned to the Northwest Green Building Law Blog.