NEW YORK A bill supporting the use of certain green building regulations in North Carolina government projects passed both houses of the states legislature June 20, a boost for North Carolina-based Nucor Corp. that could have a far-reaching impact on the domestic steel industry.
In its original form, House Bill 628 would have effectively prohibited in state projects the use of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) building guidelines, which promote the use of locally produced and recyclable construction products like steel. But the North Carolina senate amended the bill after Nucor, concrete mixers and other lobbyists protested the bill because it might have discouraged the use of locally produced steel and other construction products.
If LEED were prohibited in state projects, advocates of the amendment said that local producers would have lost their advantage over out-of-state or foreign producers.
"The original version would have eliminated LEED as an option for public projects in North Carolina," state Rep. Ruth Samuelson (R., 104th District) told AMM. "If we had said you cant use LEED anymore it would have disadvantaged Nucor ... Nucor is headquartered in my district, so when I realized thats what it was going to do, we tried to change it."
Charlotte-based Nucor supports the LEED certification and is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), the group that publishes the LEED guidelines.
"Nucor supports the current version of the bill as amended in the Senate," a spokeswoman for Nucor told AMM. "The amended version maintains the option to seek LEED certification in new state construction projects if desired. As such, it encourages the use of all materials manufactured or harvested in North Carolina while not favoring one industry at the expense of others."
Lobbyists have sought to weaken LEED in other states, as well as at the federal level (amm.com, May 28) , and Samuelson said that the decision could influence other states that are debating LEED guidelines.
Steel produced in countries outside the United States could replace locally made product without widespread adherence to LEED. Domestic steel giants like Tampa, Fla.-based Gerdau Long Steel North America, Fort Wayne, Ind.-based Steel Dynamics Inc. and other companies are members of the USGBC, in addition to Nucor. The American Iron and Steel Institute supports LEED as well.
The bill prohibiting the use of LEED guidelines passed the house 70-43 May 13, then was amended by the Senate Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources Committee to permit LEED guidelines June 11. The amended bill passed the Senate 45-1 June 17, and unanimously passed its return to the House June 20 with 105 votes.
North Carolina governor Pat McCrory will almost certainly sign the bill within the next 10 days, Samuelson said.