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PSN on December 4, 2009 - 12:58pm
Friday, December 4, 2009
Implementing more robust, or strengthening, state green building standards in new construction projects and renovations can help reduce the impact buildings have on our environment. Green building or sustainable building focuses on increasing the efficiency of resource use — energy, water, and materials — while reducing building impacts on human health and the environment during the building's life cycle, through better design, construction, and operation. Enacting state laws that enable municipal energy financing programs (the financing of energy improvements such as renewable energy, water conservation, and energy efficiency improvements via municipal loans tied to a property, not the homeowner) can provide municipalities and residents with a powerful mechanism capable of overcoming financial barriers that oftentimes impede the installation of energy improvements. Since municipal energy financing has limited or no upfront costs for consumers and can be basically budget neutral for the government, it offers a unique opportunity to implement energy improvements that can help make existing buildings more environmentally friendly.
Summary of Policy
With ever rising energy costs, promoting green buildings is a key tool for promoting lower costs and a better environment for the future. As part of our multi-state shared agenda, the Progressive States Network is working to promote green buildings legislation as a key policy solution. As climate change and environmental degradation continue to challenge policymakers, state leaders have the opportunity to promote solutions that reduce the emission of toxins and increase energy efficiency while pledging to create jobs and protect the environment. To this end, we propose model legislation that encompasses the following key provisions:
To that end, PSN has worked with allies to produce the following model corporate transparency bill based on best practices from around the country.
Key Provisions and Why Green Buildings Policy Matters
Government has the opportunity to pave the way for private industry to meet environmental standards. The list of elected officials introducing policies in cities, towns and states across the country is growing. According to the U.S. Green Buildings Council, legislation using LEED standards includes executive orders, resolutions, ordinances, policies, and incentives, which are found in 45 states, including 194 localities (130 cities, 36 counties, and 28 towns), 34 state governments, 13 federal agencies or departments, 17 public school jurisdictions and 39 institutions of higher education across the country.
Why Green Buildings Policy Matters: Energy efficiency standards for public buildings can save significant amounts of taxpayer money, while providing a healthier, more productive workplaces for employees. Other provisions will allow cities, counties and states to erect new buildings and retrofit existing buildings according to green standards for the operation and maintenance of existing buildings.
Green building legislation should include job creation and training to ensure that buildings can be built and maintained based on green standards. Training for green jobs is particularly important as more and more public and private builders follow environmental building standards like LEED (developed by the U.S. Green Buildings Council). And, to encourage more local governments to create jobs and invest in energy efficient buildings, authority must be given to cities and towns to determine programming and funding opportunities.
There are currently opportunities to use Federal recovery funds to create green jobs and promote environmentally sound infrastructure/buildings. Many states have utilized recovery funds for weatherization programs to ensure that residential units are energy efficient, and giving property owners substantial savings on their utility bills. This is not simply a job creation opportunity as states struggle with high unemployment rates, but it also saves homeowners money while promoting wise energy practices.
Each state may have their own way of going about green building policy, and we recognize that one model bill cannot suit all needs. The model legislation we propose includes best practices from legislation around the country and suggestions from leading experts in the field. There are many opportunities in this legislation to replace language to reflect specific needs within your state.
Key provisions in the model bill include:
Messaging on Green Buildings: Why Go Green?
Green buildings can improve our environment, strengthen our health, and reduce the strain on our pocket books. Turning toward energy efficiency now through green buildings saves money, benefits our environment, and positively impacts our health. We can’t afford not to Go Green.
Green buildings save money.
Going green can improve our health and productivity.
Green buildings are an investment that gives back.
Green building initiatives build the local economy.
Green is a growing trend.
Supporting a Green Buildings Campaign
Green Buildings Standards and Research:
Enabling Municipal Financing for Renewables and Efficiency:
Green Jobs and the Green Economy:
Weatherization and Recovery Funds
National Green Standards Resources: There are a variety of different energy efficiency standards and products to consider for your green buildings legislation. The following is a list of some widely recognized standards, with links to the respective organizations/agencies.
PSN Support in Your States
PSN has already begun working with legislators and advocates to provide support for them as they introduce green buildings legislation around the country. We'd like to work with many more!
Our policy staff are also available to answer questions and supply information not on the website. Legislators and advocates can contact us about supporting Green Buildings campaigns through our website or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
As bills are introduced and sessions begin, PSN will provide ongoing resources and updates on green buildings legislation, as well as help coordinate strategy and information sharing with our partners among sponsors and advocates.
3 Steps Forward
2 Steps Back
The Stateside Dispatch is written and edited by:
Nathan Newman, Executive Director
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