I agree with Amy; LEED is mostly for architects (and also for contractors) -- it's all about getting points for choices, but has little or no molecular input -- chemical products are seen as black boxes (mostly) that are primarily described in a macroscopic way (are they volatile or not? Are they recyclable or not?). A better overlay between LEED and green chemistry would be great.
Thanks for your question Laura. Years ago the chemical industry through the Chemical Manufacturer's Association (now the ACC) spent very large amounts of money advertising the general benefits of the chemical industry in an attempt to improve public perception of the industry. Despite spending large sums of money, public perception, based on extensive surveys, never changed.
Another example is the Pharma industry whose public trust is worse than the tobacco industry despite keeping many people in a higher quality of life, longer, through their innovations.
Bottom line for me is what value is there in changing public perception? I would say that the more beneficial place to spend money is to change those who are most responsible for making new chemicals and products - chemists, chemical engineers and allied professions so that they are able to make better decisions in the moment of innovation.
The new Chemical Footprint Tool was developed by BizNGO to be similar to the Carbon Disclosure Project, but for chemicals. For companies that use it, this should help with internal benchmarking, transparency, and external communication to the public on chemicals use and improvement towards products with safer chemistries.
Communicating examples of how green chemistry its being promoted by government agencies in other parts of the world, like Canada and Europe, can help US policy makers identify different ways to help promote green chemistry; based on the Canadian example, it is no single government agency, but rather a number of different agencies that contribute effectively to bridge the gap between private funding (VC's) and achieving commercial scale. Not necessarily one single government agency/large set of funds, but multiple, smaller agencies, with different financial tools; for example, for example loan guarantees rather than subsidies, so that it is a business proposition for the government agencies, with the potential to bring return, to enable further investment.
Lessons learned are to keep lobbying these government agencies ; publish, promote and present persistently and passionately!
Green chemistry's heritage was in the pollution prevention act, and it has always been seen as the ultimate form of source reduction for toxics/hazardous substances. I would say that government agencies have a huge role to play in encouraging voluntary initiatives centered in pollution prevention and pointing to sustainable and green chemistry as the best way to achieve that. To the extent that government agencies can train enforcement people to ask the right questions and encourage prevention as a means of environmental and economic benefit (with happier neighbors) I think sustainable and green chemistry would receive a great impetus.