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To LEED … or Not to LEAD — That is the Question!

March 2, 2011

Think of the word “soup.” What name (Campbell’s) do we naturally put in front of it? To catch a sneeze, do I ask for a “facial tissue,” or do I call for a Kleenex? In the business world, successful companies are the ones that sear their brand into the minds of the consumer. Winning corporations stand by their brand, and create loyal and confident customers that will settle for nothing less than the best.

So, why would Chatham County settle for anything less than the best as it seeks to establish its place as THE leader in one of the hottest markets of the future, Green Building? Why would Chatham County bet its future on a model T Ford when it could choose a plug-in Prius or a Chevy Volt to get us there? That was exactly the kind of nitty-gritty question posed by architect Alicia Ravetto to BOC members considering doing away with “LEED” certification for building energy efficiency in Chatham.

[Note: LEED is a third-party certification program and the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings. The LEED green building certification program encourages and accelerates global adoption of sustainable green building and development practices through a suite of rating systems that recognize projects that implement strategies for better environmental and health performance.]

Ms. Ravetto, along with Paul Konove and another member of Chatham’s Green Building Task Force, Tom Foster, explained the history of LEED in Chatham and stated that if we are serious about energy efficient building, using LEED standards is the way to prove that. When LEED is implemented from the beginning of a project with critical early planning, and when there is an integrated approach, LEED certification offers long term energy and fiscal savings. Verification is critical in green building, and LEED is the best verification program, stated Ms. Ravetto.

The fate and future of LEED will be voted on at the next BOC meeting. The Board Chair states his concern about maintaining “flexibility,” and the newly elected Board members are ever mindful that they ran on a promise of protecting tax payers’ dollars. As BOC members strive for “flexibility,” we ask that they not become contortionists bending over backwards so far that they send Chatham backwards rather than forward as the leader in green building efficiency that leads us all to a more sustainable and profitable future. In the frenzy to cut and whittle (“streamline”) to save a penny, let’s not kill the goose and toss the baby out with the bath water. In the real world where brands are critical, the LEED brand is the payoff and the smart investment in Chatham’s future.

If you agree, please take time now to contact your new commissioners and urge them to lead by growing LEED in Chatham rather than cutting it off at its green trunk: brian.bock@chathamnc.org, walter.petty@chathamnc.org, pam.stewart@chathamnc.org. To learn more about the history of LEED in Chatham and why we need it for our future, you can read the presentations by Paul Konove and Alicia Ravetto.

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