What's Happening in Green Building Policy?
Hundreds Business and Community Leaders Urge Congress to Save PACE
Sept. 8, 2010
This month, the U.S. Green Building Council community demonstrated the power and commitment that are at the heart of this movement. Through our member companies and our chapters, USGBC mobilized local businesses around the country to take action and voice their support for Property Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE, and they responded. USGBC delivered a letter signed by nearly 350 businesses to Congress calling for urgent passage of legislation to save PACE and continue clean energy job creation across the country.
PACE has witnessed unparalleled popularity in cities and towns across America over the past two years as a realistic and feasible method for financing green retrofits. Since 2008, PACE financing programs have been established in 22 states plus the District of Columbia as local governments embraced the widespread benefits of job creation, utility savings for home and business owners, and increased clean energy and energy efficiency. But recently, federal restrictions issued by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) have halted PACE programs around the country, and now it's up to Congress to protect the program.
Early leaders on PACE such as California, New York and Colorado, are not backing down easily. California has filed suit against the FHFA, accusing the Agency of disregarding state law. "Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac received enormous federal bailouts, but now they're throwing up impermeable barriers to bank lending that creates jobs, stimulates the economy and boosts clean energy," said California Attorney General Jerry Brown last month in a press release.
Background on PACE
Cisco DeVries, while serving as chief of staff to Berkeley, Calif., Mayor Tom Bates, saw an opportunity for PACE while working on an assessment project in the city, and had the idea to apply the same model for renewable energy installments and energy efficiency retrofits. Soon, Berkeley had launched the first program by which homeowners could borrow money from the city for green retrofits and pay it back through their property taxes, amortized over 20 years. Under the financing program, the debt stays with the property even if it is sold.
"Not only does it help solve the funding problem of how we pay for renewable energy, but it came along at exactly the right moment when we were focused on how we as a nation, as a state, can get people back to work and help families save money," said DeVries, who now leads Renewable Funding, LLC, a firm helping local governments create PACE programs.
Welcome, Lane Burt!
Aug. 30, 2010
|Photo: Moshe Zusman|
The USGBC Advocacy Team is thrilled to announce our new Technical Policy Director, Lane Wesley Burt. Coming to USGBC from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Lane was the lead advocate on federal policy relating to buildings and appliances. Lane brings extensive technical and political knowledge to USGBC's advocacy and policy shop, having helped draft legislation related to building and appliance energy efficiency, including provisions of the Recovery Act, the American Clean Energy and Security Act, and the Home Star Act. Additionally, Lane has worked on building energy labeling, incentives, codes and standards at the federal level and in China, and has testified as an expert witness in congressional hearings on these topics.
Lane is a mechanical engineer by training, receiving his master's degree from the University of Florida and completing his undergraduate work at North Carolina State University. Before turning to policy, Lane worked on the design and modeling of high-performance commercial buildings, including LEED buildings, in Charlotte, N.C. Adding to his already compatible background with USGBC's mission, Lane recently served as a member of the Energy & Atmosphere Technical Advisory Group (TAG) working on developing LEED 2012 until he joined the staff on Aug. 30.
For more information on Lane's advocacy work on energy policy and green buildings, take a look at his regular contributions to NRDC's Switchboard blog, The Huffington Post, Grist.org, GreenBiz.com, and The Energy Collective.
USGBC Partners on First-ever Clean Energy Ministerial Meeting
Jul. 19, 2010
On July 20-21, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) hosted the inaugural Clean Energy Ministerial meeting in Washington, D.C. The event brought together energy and environment Secretaries and Ministers from around the world to collaborate on clean energy technologies and policies, and included participation from the leading private-sector companies working to advance clean energy and efficiency solutions. USBGC partnered with DOE, the Alliance to Save Energy, and the American Council on Renewable Energy to host a Clean Energy Ministerial Stakeholder Day and heard from international dignitaries such as the Danish Climate and Energy Minister Lykke Friis, as well as Secretary Steven Chu, and Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Richard Lugar (R-Ind.).
USGBC President and CEO Rick Fedrizzi chaired the panel "Smart Buildings and Smart Grid," which included Dwight Gibson, Vice President and General Manager of Connected Home Solutions at Ingersoll Rand, Dan Reicher, Director Climate Change & Energy Initiatives at Google, Clay Nesler, Vice President at Johnson Controls, and Christopher Strom, Director of Project Development at Skanska USA.
Rick Fedrizzi at the Clean Energy Ministerial meeting
"Accelerating market uptake of exiting clean technologies, while thinking innovatively about how we use energy most efficiently, is the path to a future that protects our planet, our pocketbooks and our children," said Fedrizzi.
Reicher on the panel, "Smart Building and Smart Grid."
Reicher, a previous energy official in the Clinton Administration, stressed the need for more intelligent power grids and buildings, in order to save money, reduce energy use, and optimize building performance and occupancy comfort. "In this case," Reicher said, "Knowledge means less power."
During the Ministerial meeting, governments from 20 countries agreed to launch the Global Energy Efficiency Challenge, accelerate clean and renewable energy supply, and enhance clean energy access in developing countries. The Global Energy Efficiency Challenge – which is projected to reduce oil consumption by 1 billion barrels over the next decade – contains a robust platform for continuous energy efficiency improvements in buildings, among other initiatives. You can read more about the Clean Energy Ministerial and its initiatives here.
With Urging from USGBC, Mayors Adopt a Green Agenda at Annual Conference
Jun. 15, 2010
At the annual meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) in Oklahoma City in June, America's mayors once again confirmed their commitment to a greener, more sustainable future. With the adoption of a set of five resolutions focused on green building policy, the mayors underscored the importance of economic and environmental sustainability in their communities.
Recognizing that local governments have long been at the forefront of addressing climate change and promoting sustainable development, USGBC jumped at the opportunity to have its voice heard at the conference and worked with individual mayors to champion the resolutions. The resolutions, which were drafted in consultation with USGBC, reflect and advance our existing priorities— and include a call to action by Congress, state legislatures, and their own local officials.
The following resolutions were introduced and passed unanimously by the USCM members:
A resolution offered by Mayor Thomas Menino of Boston supporting green affordable housing and financing and calling on Congress to adopt the GREEN Act, the Energy Efficiency in Housing Act or similar legislation that ensures the benefits of green buildings are accessible to Americans of all income levels.
- A resolution offered by Mayor Franklin Cownie of Des Moines supporting the greening of schools and school districts and calling on school districts to implement green initiatives such as appointing sustainability managers, establishing a green advisory team, providing training for municipal and district staff, and adopting policies that call for all district schools to pursue certification through third-party rating systems like LEED.
- A resolution offered by Mayor Lioneld Jordan of Fayetteville, Ark., calling on U.S. cities wishing to take a more holistic approach to incorporating into code energy efficiency in residential and commercial building, sustainable community planning, and healthy and safe building practices to adopt the International Green Construction Code and consider its Standard 189.1 compliance path as base code in their jurisdiction.
- A resolution offered by Mayor Steve Bellone of Babylon, N.Y., supporting financial prescriptions for green retrofits of existing buildings, such as PACE, and calling upon state legislatures to adopt enabling legislation to allow for Energy Financing Districts to be established in their states.
- A resolution offered by Mayor Patrick Henry Hays of North Little Rock, Ark., supporting sustainable development in cities and calling on Congress to adopt the Livable Communities Act, the Enhancing Livability for All Americans Act, or similar legislation and to support full funding for the Sustainable Communities Partnership.
USGBC staff is working with members of the National League of Cities and National Association of Counties to have similar resolutions introduced and adopted at their respective annual conferences. You can learn more about the 78th meeting of the USCM in Oklahoma and read the full compilation of adopted resolutions here.
USGBC Member Organizations Testify Before Congress
May and June 2010
As leaders in the green building industry, USGBC member companies continue to be sought out for expert advice on green and sustainable policymaking. Over the past several months, two USGBC member companies were invited to Washington, D.C., to share insights on current and future green building trends with key congressional committees, in order to assist with policy decisions and oversight.
As part of a series of hearings on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee invited USGBC member PCL Construction Services to testify on the ongoing progress of high-performance green building in the federal government in May. Kevin Welch, Senior Project Manager at PLC, testified on USGBC's behalf on the green retrofit of the Denver Federal Center in Colorado – a stimulus project, according to Welch, exemplifying the government's commitment to creating jobs, reducing energy use and saving taxpayer dollars.
"I know firsthand that these programs are putting Americans back to work and they also send a clear signal that building green is a key element in reducing the federal government's environmental and operating footprint," Welch said.
|Welch and Chairman Oberstar|
In June, David Caldwell Jr. of Caldwell & Johnson, Inc., Custom Home Builders was invited by Senator Whitehouse (D-R.I.) to testify in front of a Senate Banking Subcommittee on the topic of green housing. Joined by other stakeholders from the housing community, Caldwell called for action on S. 1379, the Energy Efficiency in Housing Act (EEHA), to spur the modernization of existing affordable housing stock and update guidelines to provide greater value on green features in the appraisal process.
"I believe that the incentives and guidance of the Energy Efficiency in Housing Act will be a tremendous help to both homeowners and small businesses in facilitating the shift towards more sustainable and efficient housing stock," Caldwell said.
For more information on the House Transportation and Infrastructure hearing, click here. For more information on the Senate Banking subcommittee hearing, click here.
USGBC Now Accepting Applications for Government Summit Working Groups
USGBC is currently seeking nominations and applications for the Education Events Working Groups. Volunteers contribute significantly to USGBC's Education Events through the Education Events Committee and Working Groups. These groups help to develop the educational programs for Greenbuild, the Residential Summit, the International Forum, and the Government Summit. Members are appointed from internal recommendations, nominations, and submitted applications; all committee and working group members are regular employees of USGBC member organizations.
Please see the Call for Nominations for the following Working Groups:
Greenbuild Program Working Group
- Greenbuild International Forum Working Group
- Residential Summit Working Group
- Government Summit Working Group
- Greenbuild Special Programs Working Group
You can apply for these Working Groups through the online application located here. The Working Group Application site will close on Thursday, Sept. 30, 2010 at 11:59 p.m. PT. Applications will not be accepted after that time.
To view the USGBC Conflict of Interest Policy, please click here. To view the USGBC Antitrust Policy, please click here.
If you have any questions about the Education Events Working Groups, please email [email protected].
ADVOCACY AREA HIGHLIGHTS
Green Buildings for Climate Protection
Although the prospects of national clean energy legislation this fall are slim, USGBC is continually looking for opportunities to make a difference on climate change through green buildings. Part of this effort is public education on how green buildings are part of a clean energy economy. And sometimes, even Capitol Hill needs to be educated! That's why USGBC launched a September advertising campaign calling on Congress to "Realize the Potential" of green building benefits for the environment and for the economy. The ads, strategically placed in Washington, D.C., metro cars, will be running for a month and are expected to reach over 32 million people.
USGBC advocacy staff has also been gearing up for the next U.N. Climate Negotiations (COP-16) happening this December in Mexico. Through partnership with our sister green building councils and the World Green Building Council, USGBC is working to advance green buildings for climate protection globally. You can read more about this effort in regions all over the world in the report "Tackling Global Climate Change, Meeting Local Priorities," being released by WorldGBC during World Green Building Week coming up this Sept. 20-24. USGBC and WorldGBC have also committed to being strategic partners at the World Climate Summit, a business conference happening alongside COP-16, being hosted in partnership with the World Bank, UN Global Compact, Pro Mexico, and more.
What to look for:
The Climate Change Leadership Summit hosted by the Association of Climate Change Officers (ACCO) this Nov. 8-9 in partnership with USGBC, the Alliance for Climate Protection, and others; and USGBC's COP-16 activities the first two weeks of December. You can read more about what to expect from the COP after last year's meeting in Copenhagen in this recent NRDC blog post.
Sustainable Cities and Communities
USGBC is out in front on advancing goals and policies for making cities sustainable and healthy places to live. With the recent announcement this spring from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to tie competitive grant programs to LEED for Neighborhood Development criteria and principles, local government officials and advocates are more eager than ever to hear about sustainable city and community strategies. USGBC is moderating a panel with local government officials on these policies, as well as green performance codes, at ICLEI's Local Action Summit this month.
As part of our focus on sustainable cities, USGBC continues to promote green building codes and standards to local jurisdictions with support from our chapters from around the country, as well as participating in the development of the International Green Construction Code. USGBC has laid out its vision of the distinct and complementary relationship of the "push" of codes and standards and the "pull" of voluntary, above-code rating systems in its white paper, Greening the Codes.
What to look for:
USGBC has also been invited to present at the National League of Cities' annual conference late this fall. There, we will lead a panel on LEED for Neighborhood Development as a tool for local governments and host a roundtable discussion with American Institute of Architects on green schools.
Green Affordable Housing
The USGBC advocacy and LEED for Homes teams have been busily working on the USGBC Affordable Housing Summit, happening in conjunction with the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo this November. The Summit is the only event in the country dedicated to bringing together the leaders in green building industry and affordability and equitable housing. Featuring keynotes from Ana Marie Argilagos, Deputy Assistant Secretary at the Department of Housing and Urban Development; Jose Moulin Netto, Chairman of the Green Building Council of Brazil and others, the event will focus on innovative policy efforts as well as proven design and construction techniques aimed at ensuring long-term affordability and improving living conditions for low-income families in the U.S. and globally.
In June, USGBC announced their support for an Architecture for Humanity Sustainable Design Fellow for Haiti rebuilding efforts in partnership with AIA and Architecture for Humanity. The fellow will play a critical role in rebuilding infrastructure and communities in Haiti that was demolished in the devastating earthquake, and assist with sustainable strategies and best practices. Read more here.
In July, USGBC staff developed a first-of-its-kind toolkit for state legislators to support policy solutions that improve the health, productivity, efficiency and fiscal responsibility of schools in their state. "Greening Our Schools: A State Legislator's Guide to Best Policy Practices" debuted on July 27, 2010, at the National Conference of State Legislatures' annual Legislative Summit in Louisville, Ky. Click here to watch Kentucky State Rep. Jim Decesare showcase the Guide and his commitment to green schools.
The toolkit was developed with input from state legislators active in USGBC's 50-for-50 Green Schools Caucus Initiative, who met for their second annual Green Schools State Legislative Summit on Sept. 15-16, 2010. The two-day event was packed full of idea generation, best‐practice sharing, and communications training to help legislators advance green school policies in their state. Helping to keep up the drumbeat of green schools is USGBC's Mayors' Alliance for Green Schools – which just passed its 50-member mark this month!
What to look for:
This fall, USGBC is launching the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council. The Center for Green Schools is a new initiative designed to raise the volume of our efforts to drive change. The Center launch will take place on the morning of Thursday, Sept. 30, 2010, at the recently renovated and expanded Stoddert Elementary School in Washington, D.C. This event will feature government and education association executives, green school advocates from across the country, and members of the media. We're looking forward to engaging you with the Center for Green Schools!
WHAT'S HAPPENING IN GREEN BUILDING POLICY
Local, State and National Headlines
Green Building: a Real Estate Revolution? Rick Fedrizzi featured on National Public Radio
Dems may push lame-duck energy bill
Secretary Chu Announces Two Million Smart Grid Meters Installed Nationwide
Homeowners must pay off energy improvement loans
200,000 homes weatherized under the Recovery Act
Penn State to lead 'energy innovation hub' at Navy Yard
HOME STAR Legislation Idled Until Fall as Energy Bill Stalls in the Senate
Cambridge passes green building zoning amendment
A blow to home energy retrofits
Energy Ministers endorse clean tech-measures, back CCS group