LEED becomes law in Baltimore

A Baltimore law that requires all new construction to adhere to LEED silver is creating difficulties for building owners and renovators.

By Source: Robbie Whelan, Maryland Daily Record July 24, 2009

The city of Baltimore is requiring builders to adhere to the U.S. Green Building Council LEED silver standard on new construction projects and major renovations starting July 1. With the city still drafting the specific regulations that accompany the bill, some developers are worried that the bill may have unintended negative consequences, reported a story in the Maryland Daily Record .

Baltimore’s new law effectively makes LEED part of the city’s building code for any new free-standing structures or additions to existing buildings. Lawmakers asserted that the new code would benefit the people by lowering energy costs and creating higher air quality. However, a range of reports have shown that building to LEED standards can add up to 12% to the construction cost of a building. People are concerned that the law will make large renovations more costly and larger in scope than building owners wish, or that the LEED standards might interfere with renovations of Baltimore’s historic buildings .

Stuart Kaplow, a local real estate lawyer, said that the real pain will be felt by developers who want to renovate their properties, but are required to do so according to LEED standards. "You have to renovate one whole floor, new HVAC, and you have to do that entire renovation to a LEED silver standard," he said. "It requires more sophistication, and potentially costs more. Some of these buildings you’re renovating in Baltimore City could be 100 years old with granite footers and stone walls."