Living in the SEC at this time of the year is exciting!  The competition is fierce and everyone has their favorite.  And I am not talking about football . . .

Will the Real Green Building Leader Please Stand Up?

Last week, I highlighted that Tennessee Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey was speaking to a group of contractors in Nashville at the annual convention for the Associated General Contractors of Tennessee.  At the same time Ramsey was commenting that Tennessee should be the "green leader in the South," a four-member panel in Birmingham, Alabama urged business leaders to take advantage of its central location and become "the epicenter of green for the South."

Going Green: Sustainability in Tough Economic Times, which was sponsored by the Birmingham Business Journal, featured a number of green business executives who touted the region’s ripeness for growth: "The Southeast is the fastest-growing area for green construction . . . . That is mostly because it is so far behind. However, Birmingham could tap into that growth."  Although many of the "going green" recommendations were about creating energy-efficient environments, one panelist believed that better siting should dictate the activities of business owners.  Chris Miller, co-founder of Piedmont Green Building Solutions, LLC, wondered why business wanted to build beyond the reach of downtown:

Birmingham-area business owners should focus on improving the city’s inner core instead of building in outlying areas, Miller said. It’s puzzling as to why a number of businesses build new facilities outside Birmingham on undeveloped land when there are plenty of opportunities to establish facilities in developed areas inside the city, he said.  “I wonder why people build outside of downtown when you already have this infrastructure in place,” he said. “It’s all about mindset and a culture change.”

The smack-down doesn’t end in Birmingham.  Beginning with a reception later this evening … and continuing all day tomorrow … the first-ever Tennessee Green Building Summit will focus on green building initiatives in a tight economy.  The following organizations have committed to participation:

While I am sure that both Tennessee and Alabama have something to offer to this "greenest leader in the South" competition, it is important to remember the distinction between goal and outcome.  With respect to green buildings, one of the litmus tests is the number of LEED certified buildings.  According to last week’s green building study by the Chicago Tribune, the only southern jurisdiction that made the "Top Ten U.S. Cities" was Atlanta. (Go Bulldogs!)  If you are talking about alternative and renewable energy legislation, then perhaps you will find most of the leaders outside the SEC.