A Yellow Light for 'Green Zoning': Some Words of Caution About Incorporating Green Building Standards into Local Land Use Law
The Urban Lawyer, Vol. 43, No. 4, pp. 949-975, 2011
28 Pages Posted: 7 Feb 2012
Date Written: February 7, 2012
The focus of this essay is a growing practice to which we can attach the label “Green Zoning” — the incorporation of LEED and competing privately generated standards into local government law, as part of the existing zoning or land use ordinance, or as a free-standing green building ordinance. After reviewing some of the pertinent literature on this topic, this essay will highlight and provide illustrations of six problems with Green Zoning practices: 1. The Delegation Problem — Can and should local laws be based on a moving target (standards set by private parties that continue to change and evolve)? 2. The Compatibility Problem — Are some green building standards inconsistent with good planning practices? 3. The Expertise Problem — Are already overburdened local officials up to the task of incorporating, administering, and overseeing Green Zoning? 4. The Eco-Political Problem — How or should local officials factor in the battles waged over green building standards? 5. The Laboratory Problem — Are variations from locality to locality a good idea, or do state standards make more sense in this area? 6. The Philosophical Problem — What role should builders, architects, and industry experts play in shaping zoning and planning ordinances?
Keywords: green building, environmental law, local government law, land use planning, zoning
JEL Classification: K32, K20, R52
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation