Following Industry's LEED: Municipal Adoption of Private Green Building Standards

66 Pages Posted: 24 Jun 2009 Last revised: 15 Sep 2013

See all articles by Sarah Schindler

Sarah Schindler

University of Denver Sturm College of Law

Date Written: June 23, 2009


Local governments are beginning to require new, privately constructed and funded buildings to be “green” buildings. Instead of creating their own, locally-derived definitions of green buildings, many municipalities are adopting an existing private standard created by members of the building industry: LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). This Article explains and assesses the privately promulgated LEED standards. It argues that the translation of LEED standards, which were intended to be voluntary, into law raises several theoretical and practical problems. Specifically, private green building ordinances that rely on LEED do not ensure a reduction in the negative local environmental impacts of buildings, nor do they provide any assurance that those standards were created through a legitimate process. The Article concludes by offering an alternative approach, suggesting that municipalities should instead enact green building ordinances that have been promulgated by public governmental bodies, rather than private, industry-based organizations, and done so locally, taking into account specific local building-related and environmental concerns.

Keywords: Sustainable Development, green building, LEED, energy, building, municipal, land use, ordinance, zoning, legitimacy, efficacy

JEL Classification: K11, K32

Suggested Citation

Schindler, Sarah, Following Industry's LEED: Municipal Adoption of Private Green Building Standards (June 23, 2009). Florida Law Review, Vol. 62, pp. 285-350, April 2010, Available at SSRN:

Sarah Schindler (Contact Author)

University of Denver Sturm College of Law ( email )

2255 E. Evans Avenue
Denver, CO 80208
United States

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