Green Building Acts

Washington, DC (May 18, 2007)- The High-Performance Green Buildings Act of 2007 (S.506), introduced by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) with eight co-sponsors, seeks to establish an Office of Green Building Performance within the General Services Administration (GSA) to develop and implement a consistent green building standard for use by federal agencies. Similar bills and their sponsors include:
* Green Buildings Act of 2007 (S.489)- Sen. John Warner (R-VA)
* High-Performance Green Buildings Act of 2007 (H.R. 121)- Reps. Mike Doyle (D-PA) and Mary Bono (R-CA)
* Reductions for Energy Efficient New Buildings Act (S. 1207)- Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA)
* Buildings for the 21st Century Act (H.R. 539)- Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA)

This issue of green buildings has garnered bipartisan support in both the House and Senate to advance energy-efficient sustainable building design, and the Alliance for Community Trees is encouraging trees to be included in these bills. Trees are part of smart green design in several ways including:
Energy savings
Trees lower the temperature through shade. The cooling effects of trees can save millions of energy dollars. 3-4 shade trees located strategically around a house can cut summer cooling costs by 30-50 percent. For one million trees, that’s $10 million in energy savings.
More efficient stormwater management
Roots stabilize soil and prevent erosion by trapping soil that would otherwise become silt. Silt destroys fish eggs and other aquatic wildlife and makes rivers and streams shallower, causing more frequent and more severe flooding. Trees along streams hold stream banks in place to protect against flooding. One tree reduces 4000 gallons of storm water runoff annually. 400 trees will capture 140,000 gallons of rainwater annually. That is, 4 million trees would save $14 million in annual storm water runoff costs.
S. 506 and H.R. 121
The GSA owns and operates approximately 500,000 buildings, making it the largest landlord in the United States. S.506 also would provide financial incentives to federal agencies for adopting green building practices and grants to educational agencies so that more schools can become healthy, high-performance buildings.
S. 489
Sen. Warner’s bill defines a “green building” as one that, during its life-cycle: (1) reduces energy, water, and material resource use and the generation of waste; (2) improves indoor environmental quality; (3) improves impacts of the building on human health and the environment; (4) increases the use of environmentally preferable products; (5) increases reuse and recycling opportunities; and (6) integrates systems in the building.
The bill also authorizes the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to provide grants to state educational agencies for use in: (1) providing technical assistance for EPA’s programs (including the Tools for Schools Program and the Healthy School Environmental Assessment Tool) to schools for use in addressing environmental issues; and (2) developing state school environmental quality plans. Authorizes the EPA to provide grants to nonprofit organizations to assist in community and public education on healthy school environments.
S. 1207 and H.R. 539
The Reductions for Energy Efficient New Buildings Act amends the revenue code to increase the allowable amount of the tax deduction for energy efficient commercial building costs.
Benefits of Green Buildings
* Substantially cut the building’s energy consumption and cost.
* Improve student and worker health and productivity through better indoor environmental quality.
* Generate on-site renewable power which is less susceptible to disasters and national security threats.
* Reduce the environmental impacts of the “built” environment.
* Provide jobs in the renewable energy and bio-based product industries (reducing the country’s reliance on imported oil).
In addition to large energy and water cost savings, green buildings can save money for the federal government, schools and businesses due to reduced sickness and absenteeism among their workforce. The American Lung Association estimates that indoor air pollution costs businesses more than $100 billion a year due to death, sick days, direct medical costs, loss of productivity, and damage to materials and equipment. Schools would benefit from incorporating green building design principles due to the heightened susceptibility of children to airborne pollutants because of their less developed immune systems. There are currently 54 million children in 120,000 schools, half of which have environmental conditions that daily erode health and learning.
Related Resources:
Washington Watch
S. 1207
H.R. 539