States Tackle Energy in 2009
Volume 1: Energy Efficiency in State Facilities
As legislatures search for ways to trim state spending, many are looking to the capitol building—as well as other state buildings— as the place to start. In 2009, about half of the states considered ways of making state-funded buildings more energy efficient. In addition to easing budget and energy woes, legislators are considering such lead-by-example policies as methods to prove that energy use reduction programs are successful and help meet energy savings or environmental protection goals. The bills from the session centered on energy standards for all public buildings (some focused specifically on schools) and a variety of plans, studies and audits.
Arizona, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia considered mandating energy conservation standards for public buildings. Missouri's bill would have required state agencies to engage in energy conservation and state buildings to meet the International Energy Conservation Code. New York's bill would require energy-efficient appliances and energy-saving products to be used in state buildings. The bills in Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia specified that all public buildings would have to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.
Mississippi passed, and its governor signed, a bill requiring that specific rules and regulations regarding energy performance of state-funded buildings would apply to any major facility projects constructed with funds from the state's Community Development Block Grant program. North Carolina considered applying energy efficiency standards to all major construction and renovation projects owned by entities that received more than $20,000 in state appropriations.
Hawaii considered requiring the use of energy-efficient lighting in public buildings. Maryland decided to keep certain exceptions to its state-building standards by failing a bill that would have repealed the exceptions that require energy performance standards and analyses required for state buildings . A Tennessee bill would require that providers of services, material, and equipment in state and local building contracts meet energy efficiency standards.
Focus on Schools
A bill in Hawaii would require new and renovated public schools (as well as replacements for old portable classrooms) to become more energy and material efficient in order to meet the standards for Collaborative for High Performance Schools. New York considered requiring new and remodeled public schools to be built to green buildings standards as well as 'healthy and high performance' standards. North Carolina considered requiring the State Energy Office to develop and maintain design protocol standards for sustainable schools. Oregon considered a bill requiring public schools to meet high environmental standards for design and construction of buildings or renovations to buildings. The bill also would create the Healthy School Buildings Fund for purpose of providing funding to school districts to offset additional costs of meeting high environmental standards.
Plans and Audits
Alaska considered several bills, which are all currently pending for the 2010 session, that would establish an energy use reduction plan and energy use audits for all public buildings in the state. California considered energy efficiency as a part of 'modernizing' the state capitol building. Maine also considered requiring energy performance rating studies of state-owned buildings. Connecticut looked at establishing a program to identify and deploy energy efficiency and clean technologies at state and municipal buildings. Minnesota considered authorizing state agencies to develop plans for using federal stimulus funds dedicated to energy projects to install energy-efficient windows in government and residential buildings. Oklahoma considered requiring state agencies, boards and commissions to appoint certain Energy Efficiency Coordinators. Pennsylvania considered establishing the Interagency Task Force on Energy.
And the Award Goes To…
The most unusual bill considered was in Washington State. The bill would require a review of the embodied energy costs during the design of a public facility. The bill stated that the primary focus of energy-efficient building design had been an attempt to reduce heating and cooling requirements over of a building's lifetime, and stated that priority should be placed on other opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental impacts of buildings.