WASHINGTON, DC-The DC Council is expected to pass legislation this afternoon that will require both the private and public sector to adopt energy efficient and environment friendly building standards. Called the Green Building Act, the law will require buildings 50,000 sf and larger, as well as any buildings that receive at least 20% of financing from public sources, to use these standards in new developments after 2012. Last week, Montgomery County in Maryland adopted similar legislation.

There is little doubt the legislation is going to pass today’s session, says Sean Cahill, vice president of Development for the Louis Dreyfus Property Group here. The only question, Cahill tells GlobeSt.com, is whether an amendment will be added that would permit developers to adopt the Portland, OR-based Green Building Initiative’s standards, called Green Globes, as an alternative to the US Green Building Council’s LEED standards. “We think it is less confusing that way,” Cahill says.

Cahill, who served on the 40-member advisory committee to this legislation, says the preference for USGBC is based on the organization’s longevity and experience with this issue.

Cahill says this legislation is the first “quasi-mandated green bill that I know of. Every other state, city and municipality that has such legislation is based on voluntary compliance.” He adds that the legislation will not be onerous to developers–contrasted with a previous bill that had been widely panned by the development community–because the requirements will phase in with changes in the building codes. These codes change every three years, he explains and when they are due to change again, LEED standards will be incorporated into the codes.

Jared Blum, president of Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association in Bethesda, MD, tells GlobeSt.com that even without the legislation in DC and Montgomery County his industry has seen great demand for green building materials such as high thermal insulation. In the DC area, he says, green buildings only make up a small percentage of the total, about 5%. “But the interest in them by developers and their actual growth has been phenomenal.” More and more developers, he says, have been adopting LEED standards on a voluntary basis.

The Louis Dreyfus Property Group has been a fierce advocate of the LEED standards. This past Friday the company delivered 1101 New York Ave., a 393,000-sf office building that is 70% preleased. Major tenants include Ernst & Young US LLP and LeBoeuf Lamb Greene & MacRae LLP. The building was built to a “gold” green building standard.

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