California governor shoots down ‘green building’ laws

In a vote of support for the lumber industry in California, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed three legislative bills on Oct. 14, saying they went too far in their effort to promote sustainable building practices.

Schwarzenegger opposed two laws that would have required state buildings to meet, at a minimum, a LEED gold rating or its equivalent in design, construction and/or operation.

“I support the development of green building standards, [but] provisions in [these bills] would create a bias for certain building materials over others without a clear benefit,” Schwarzenegger said in a prepared statement. In particular, he pointed out that green standards discourage the use of domestic lumber as a building material in favor of foreign grown bamboo and wheatgrass.

The third bill, also passed by California’s Democratic-controlled legislature, would have directed a state agency, in consultation with others, to develop green building standards for residential occupancy. Schwarzenegger opposed using mandates to achieve these goals. He also voiced concerns over how certain green building standards might conflict with California’s seismic and fire safety codes.

The Lumber Association of California and Nevada (LACN) and other representatives of the wood products industry had opposed the three bills, urging the governor and the state legislature not to “micro manage” green building efforts.