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Nucor opposes NC bill blocking LEED

Keywords: Tags  LEED, North Carolina, Ruth Samuelson, Nucor, Steel Dynamics, locally sourced materials, American Iron and Steel Institute, AISI Michele Presnell

NEW YORK — The North Carolina House of Representatives has passed a bill that would effectively block the use of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) ratings for public projects, a move that Nucor Corp. protested because it could hurt steel mills in the region that sell construction-related products.

The LEED rating awards credits or points to building projects based on energy efficiency, water conservation and material sourcing. A number of major steel industry players—including Charlotte, N.C.-based Nucor; Steel Dynamics Inc., Fort Wayne, Ind.; and the American Iron and Steel Institute, Washington—are organizational members of the U.S. Green Building Council, which established the LEED rating.

The mills support LEED because it encourages the use of recycled material in buildings, giving mini-mills, which use recycled scrap, a leg up in sourcing steel to building projects, sources said. LEED also gives credits for buildings that use material sourced within 500 miles of the project, benefitting domestic producers.

"Steel companies are interested in LEED because it encourages the use of recycled materials and the use of local material," Lane Burt, policy director at the building council, told AMM.

Though the recent legislation, House Bill 628, doesn’t mention LEED, it would effectively ban its use. The bill requires state projects to use only building rating systems that give credits equally to different forestry systems for timber production. The council doesn’t give credits equally to all forestry systems and, therefore, couldn’t be allowed for use on public projects in North Carolina.

"The bill is designed as a Trojan horse attack on green building and LEED," Burt said.

State Rep. Ruth Samuelson (R., District 104), who represents the district where Nucor is based, confirmed that the bill would ban LEED.

"It would in effect kill LEED projects for North Carolina unless LEED agrees to accept a broader definition," Samuelson said, adding that LEED encourages construction contractors to use domestic steel over imports.

"It’s hard for (companies in North Carolina) to compete on the steel side. You’ve got the cheap import steel from China or you have the U.S.-based steel from Nucor. I’d rather have that," Samuelson said.

A Nucor spokeswoman told AMM that the LEED certification encourages businesses and engineers to use local products, which benefits steel mills in the region.

"Nucor believes the state must not abandon its use of LEED certification, which promotes energy efficiency (and) preservation of our natural resources and encourages state projects funded by state taxpayers to use locally sourced materials, thereby benefitting North Carolina-based businesses," she said.

Georgia, Maine and Mississippi have also moved to ban LEED for public projects, Burt said.

The bill, sponsored by North Carolina Reps. Michele Presnell (R., District 118) and Rick Caitlin (R., District 20), was passed in the state’s House of Representatives May 13. It is now being reviewed in the state Senate.

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