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[GreenYes] Green Buildings - Wall Street Journal Story

WALL STREET JOURNAL -- July 10, 2002
Once Skeptics, Builders See Green
In Contracts for 'Green' Offices

"SACRAMENTO, Calif. - When the state of California set out in 1999 to build
one of the largest "green" office complexes in the country, construction
manager Ron Mitchell was perplexed.
"I'm not joking, I thought the skin of the building was going to be green,"
Mr. Mitchell recalls.
"But other builders and manufacturers were more outraged than confused by
some of the project's bidding requirements.
""When California issued its green specs , it was scary," says Scott Lesnet,
environmental manager for All Steel Inc., a furniture company and subsidiary
of Hon Industries Inc., Muscatine, Iowa. "They're nuts," he recalls
thinking. "There's no way any company can deliver all that."
"Makers of furniture, carpet and other materials were required to meet
strict limits on gases emitted by 21 chemicals, such as benzene, that are
considered unsafe. Construction companies were required to recycle at least
75% of the debris from the site's existing buildings that were to be torn
down. And in case bidders weren't familiar with the environmental acronyms
peppering the binder-sized request -- such as VOC (volatile organic
compound) or RC (recycled content) -- the state included a glossary.
"The Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturer's Association wrote
the state to say it found the bidding requests "to be impractical, if not
impossible, to achieve in the near future."
"But with a nearly $60 million contract on the line, manufacturers couldn't
afford to turn their backs on the huge potential profit. So All Steel and
two other furniture makers quietly went against the industry current and
submitted a bid. All Steel landed the contract. And the furniture-makers
association has since backed off its stance.
Peter Anderson
4513 Vernon Blvd. Suite 15
Madison, WI 53705
Ph:    (608) 231-1100
Fax:   (608) 233-0011
Cell:   (608) 345-0381

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