March 2, 2000
Council seeks members' views on bill to give credits for 'green' building products
The Council is seeking members' input on a bill to give tax credits for the construction or rehabilitation of buildings that meet certain environmental standards.
"We have concerns about this bill, and we'll use our members' input to decide whether to take a formal position on it," said Ken Pokalsky, The Council's environmental specialist.
The bill, proposed by the Governor, seeks to increase demand for "environmentally preferable building materials, finishes and furnishings."
The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) would adopt regulations defining "environmentally preferable" products.
These standards would apply to: concrete; wood; millwork substrates; insulation; ceramic; glass and cementitious tiles; ceiling tiles; flooring and carpets; paints; coatings and adhesives; and furniture. DEC could also adopt standards for any other materials or furnishings it selects.
DEC would base standards on: minimum percentages of recycled content and renewable source materials; maximum levels of toxicity and volatile organic compounds; and any other standard it deems appropriate.
The bill says standards would be "informed by" standards being developed by the U.S. Green Buildings Council, but there is no requirement to be consistent with accepted standards for safety or energy efficiency.
Pokalsky said The Council's concerns include:
- The bill provides little guidance in establishing "environmental" standards for building materials. "Ill-informed regulations could adversely impact the marketability of building materials that do not meet new standards," Pokalsky said.
- Standards might eventually be applied outside the green-building tax-credit program-to state procurement contracts, for example.
- Council members generally oppose state product standards, preferring that any such standards be adopted nationally, he said.