What's Happening in Green Building Policy?
USGBC "Top 10 Legislation" Signed into Law
Dec. 14, 2010
On Dec. 14, President Obama signed into law landmark legislation on public building performance and workforce training passed by Congress earlier this month. Authored by Sens. Tom Carper (D-DE) and Susan Collins (R-ME) in the Senate and Reps. Russ Carnahan (D-MO) and Judy Biggert (R-IL) in the House, the Federal Buildings Personnel Training Act of 2010 was championed by USGBC throughout 2010 – including a feature in our Top 10 list released in February and a principle ask during our Congressional Advocacy Day in September.
Congressman Carnahan and Rick Fedrizzi at USGBC's Congressional Advocacy Day Reception
The bill requires the General Services Administration (GSA), commonly referred to as the government's "landlord", to identify competencies that federal buildings personnel should possess and require that they be demonstrated. GSA will work with private industry and institutions of higher learning to create comprehensive continuing education courses to ensure that federal employees and private contractors have the necessary training to maintain federal buildings in a manner consistent with industry best practices.
Authors of the bill lauded its passage and echoed the need for more action to improve the operations of federal buildings.
"This bipartisan legislation will ensure that the federal government has one more tool to ensure that federal buildings are properly maintained and operated at their highest performance levels. You wouldn't give a race car to an inexperienced driver and expect them to win the Indy 500. In the same way, we can't expect our federal buildings to run at peak efficiency if we don't provide our personnel with the training required to make that happen," said Sen. Carper, Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management. "This is just a first step to managing our nation's federal property and buildings in a more practical and cost-efficient manner."
"Targeted training will enable us to stress core competencies such as building operation and maintenance, energy management, safety and design functions," said Sen. Susan Collins, ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
The bipartisan legislation received broad support from over 50 business, advocacy, trade and building safety organizations, including USGBC, the International Facility Management Association, the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, the National Institute of Building Sciences, and manufacturers such as Siemens, DuPont and Johnson Controls.
Click here for more information on the legislation. Click here for USGBC's Top 10 Pieces of Green Building Legislation in the 111th Congress.
Report from the U.N. Climate Talks
Dec. 10, 2010
Last week, USGBC joined governments and civil society from every continent on the globe in Cancun, where negotiators from 194 countries worked day and night to come to agreement on the issues of greenhouse reductions, clean technology, climate change adaptation, and financing for poor countries. Still reeling from the rush of Greenbuild, USGBC's Roger Platt and Hope Lobkowicz led USGBC's delegation at the 16th Conference of the Parties (COP 16) meeting of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), advocating sustainable building practices as a key strategy for combating climate change.
As discussions moved slowly within the negotiations, there was plenty of activity around the COP that signaled progress. With or without a new international deal on climate, it's clear that sub-national governments and the private sector are surging ahead on plans to lower emissions. USGBC was booked solid at events ranging from industry leadership to sustainable affordable housing, speaking on the benefits of green buildings and energy efficiency to the economy and to the environment.
Roger Platt Speaking on the Panel, "Green Buildings, the Low Hanging Fruit," hosted by the U.S. Department of Commerce at the U.S. Center, Cancun
The World Climate Summit, a forum for business leadership on climate change held alongside the COP on December 4-5, sought to inspire action and commitment from the private sector and featured environmental heroes Ted Turner, Robert Redford, Philippe Cousteau, and more. USGBC served as a strategic partner for the event, which provided a special venue for us and several USGBC members to share our experiences in green building with this high profile, international audience.
"There are few events that bring together undeveloped, developing and industrialized countries to understand multilateral partnerships between countries and organizations are necessary to solve the climate change crisis at the pace it needs to be resolved," said Theresa Lehman, Director of Sustainability at Miron Construction, a USGBC member company. "As a member of the building sector, I sincerely appreciate the unique perspectives outside of my industry. They inspire innovative carbon emission reduction solutions in the design, construction and operation of buildings that otherwise may have been overlooked. The World Climate Summit has been an unforgettable and motivating experience. The message was consistently clear: 'We can and we will - together - find opportunities to resolve climate change.'"
Together with our members, the World Green Building Council, and many other partners, USGBC carried the message of a greener built environment to tackle climate change throughout the COP. Under the banner of the recently launched Global Leadership in Our Built Environment (GLOBE) Alliance, USGBC held a press conference at the Moon Palace where speakers from the World GBC, the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, the United Nations Foundation, Johnson Controls, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and Mexico GBC underscored the importance of the building and transportation sectors in the climate change solution.
From L to R, Jane Henley, WGBC, Mark Hopkins, UNF, Alvin Lin, NRDC, Cesar Trevino, MGBC, Jennifer Layke, JCI, and Ramon Cruz, ITDP
GLOBE's message at COP-16 was echoed by Mexican President Felipe Calderon – a lifelong champion of energy efficiency who had extraordinary influence at the talks as the host of the UNFCCC conference.
"... Either we change lifestyles to halt climate change or climate change will permanently alter the way of life of our civilization - and it won't be for the better," said President Calderon, on the importance of changing our culture to a more energy-conscious society.
These comments from the President of Mexico and other from high-ranking politicians, including the Energy Ministers of Denmark, South Africa, and even the U.S., all underscored that we must get to work on core building blocks of a low-carbon future now, and energy efficiency the leading tool for energy savings, cost savings, and emission savings for a healthier planet and better tomorrow. We will look for the same leadership and more in South Africa next year, as governments, civil society, and business converge again around the commitment to tackle global climate change.
|Hope Lobkowicz with the Danish Minister of Climate and Energy, the Honorable Lykke Friis|
While Cancun did not produce a new binding deal on climate change, there were several important factors that will help pave the way for a new legal framework outcome in Durban, South Africa -- the site of the 2011 climate talks. Click here for an overview of the Cancun Agreements. Read a copy of the GLOBE Alliance COP-16 Call to Action, or access the press release.
Congress Comes to Greenbuild to Hear from Expert Panel
Nov. 15, 2010
On the eve of the U.S. Green Building Council's annual Greenbuild International Conference and Expo in Chicago, the two Co-Chairs of the Congressional High-Performance Buildings Caucus convened a field hearing to discuss ongoing efforts to expand renewable energy integration in buildings. Congressman Russ Carnahan (D-MO) and Congresswoman Judy Biggert (R-IL), members of the House Committee on Science and Technology, organized the field hearing to bring light to existing technologies and explore new opportunities to scale up distributed generation.
The Committee heard from leading USGBC members and green building practitioners on federal efforts assisting with incorporation of renewable energy systems in buildings and urged strong support for greater research and deployment in the building sector.
From L to R: Mr. Joseph Ostafi IV, Mr. Michael Lopez, Mr. Daniel Cheifetz, Dr. Jeffery P. Chamberlain, Ms. Martha G. VanGeem, PE
"We don't have twenty years for this new technology to become the standard for how we build our new buildings and fix our existing ones," said Daniel Cheifetz, Chief Executive Officer Indie Energy Systems Company. "Fortunately, the need is recognized, and there is a huge pent up demand."
The panel responded favorably to the testimony given at the hearing.
"There are remarkable strides being made in this field. By sharing and learning from each other, we can help advance technologies and practices that will create jobs and encourage growth that is smarter, more efficient, and more sustainable," said Congressman Carnahan. "I am thrilled that we can approach this issue from a bipartisan standpoint. I believe strongly that Americans are at our best when we work together to solve our problems, and sustainability and energy independence are challenges that should – and must - transcend party politics."
Congresswoman Biggert addresses USGBC member companies at the Illinois Member Circle Lunch in Chicago
"Builders in Illinois and around the country are accomplishing amazing things by integrating cutting-edge renewable energy technologies into modern designs for homes, factories, and offices. This hearing is about casting a spotlight on building initiatives that maximize energy savings while creating new, green jobs right here in America's heartland," said Congresswoman Biggert.
Click here for more information on the hearing or the activities of the House Science and Technology Committee.
State Legislators Convene to Advance Green Schools
Sep. 22, 2010
In September 2010, 28 leading state legislators from across the country convened at the U.S. Green Building Council's headquarters in Washington, D.C., for the second annual Green Schools State Legislative Summit.
Sponsored by the Turner Foundation as part of the 50 for 50 Green Schools Caucus Initiative, the Summit brought together lawmakers and critical stakeholders from the education sector for two days of idea generation, best‐practice sharing and communications training to advance effective state policies that promote the benefits of green schools.
In addition to comparing legislative approaches with their colleagues around the country, the lawmakers also discussed how the Center for Green Schools can best support their efforts to drive change in their states. A key part of the conversation focused on engaging the legislators with USGBC's network of more than 30,000 chapter volunteers in our shared vision of putting every child in a green school within this generation.
Click here for more information on program, speakers, and activities of the 2010 Green Schools State Legislative Summit.
Green Building Advocates Take Message to Capitol Hill
Sep. 29, 2010
As part of USGBC's effort to support sound national green building policy, nearly 40 advocates from USGBC chapters and affiliates across the country traveled to Washington, DC in September to participate in USGBC's third annual Congressional Advocacy Day. This annual event provides chapter advocates with an opportunity to educate Members of Congress and their staff about the benefits of green building and about legislative opportunities to advance this important work.
Senator Mark Udall (Center) with Bill Hofmann and Tarah Schroeder of the Colorado Chapter
Hailing from nearly 30 states, USGBC's chapter advocates participated in training on recent congressional activity and tips for advocating on behalf of green building issues before participating in more than 100 meetings on Capitol Hill. In addition to informing Members and staff about the work of USGBC chapters and green building projects in their districts, chapter advocates highlighted the important role that Members can play in supporting green building through passage of legislation to provide incentives for energy and water upgrades in residential buildings, education and training and green schools legislation.
Leif Elgethun of the Idaho Chapter with Senator Jim Risch
Senator Kay Hagan (Right) talks with Doug Brinkley with the North Carolina Triangle Chapter (left) and John Komisin with the North Carolina Charlotte Chapter (Center)
Congressional Advocacy Day provides a unique opportunity for members of the USGBC community to apply their experience and diverse backgrounds in an important new way that moves national policymaking forward.
"Congressional Advocacy Dayhas allowed for us to connect with our representatives in Congress to become their resource for understanding the benefits of green building policy and its positive impact on the environment and economy," said Patrick Quinn, Advocacy Committee Chair for the Cincinnati Regional Chapter of USGBC.
The two-day event concluded with a reception, at which advocates had an opportunity to meet with congressional staff and with USGBC's President, CEO and Founding Chair, Rick Fedrizzi.
Click here for additional information about USGBC's policy asks during Congressional Advocacy Day 2010. For more information or to express your interest in participating in future USGBC Congressional Advocacy Day activities, please contact Bryan Howard, Legislative Director, at email@example.com.
Cities Adopt a Green Building Agenda at Annual Conference
Dec. 4, 2010
At its annual meeting in Denver, the National League of Cities (NLC) and its membership showed national leadership by endorsing a green building policy agenda that calls on the Federal government to support critical efforts that are working to help cities save money, save energy and create jobs. NLC adopted five resolutions that support local sustainable building programs and are critical to USGBC's mission of transforming the design, construction and operations of our buildings and communities.
The resolutions that were adopted unanimously this week include:
Calling on the Federal Government to Address Issues of Sustainability and Support Local Green Efforts
- Congressional Action to Support Property Assessed Clean Energy Programs
- Clarification that Federal Law Does Not Preempt State and Local Energy Efficiency Building Codes
- Support for Green Affordable Housing and Financing
- Support for Sustainable Development in Cities and Towns
Cities and towns have long served as laboratories for addressing climate change and have provided a myriad of examples for how the Federal government should promote sustainability across the country.
These resolutions, strongly supported by USGBC, represent a powerful endorsement for implementing a green building and neighborhood agenda that will advance our greatest opportunities to revitalize the economy. Advancing these measures in localities across the country will create new green jobs, save people money through operational cost savings, combat climate change, preserve water and natural resources, and promote better health.
The resolutions demonstrate the continuation of a national trend of local government leadership on sustainable planning and innovation. USGBC's launch of the LEED for Neighborhood Development rating system – referenced in the resolutions alongside other LEED rating systems for building design, construction and operations – promises to be an important tool in further supporting these communities' sustainability goals.
Click here to read the press release.
Announcing USGBC's 2011 Government Summit
Get Ready: USGBC's 2011 Government Summit – formerly known as Federal Summit – will take place May 10-11, 2011, at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C.
Join attendees from federal, state and local governments, academia, school districts, non-profits and the private sector for a two-day discussion on the state of government green building and the role the government plays in market transformation for a more sustainable built environment.
Get Involved: USGBC is soliciting education session proposals for the 2011 Government Summit. The Government Summit education program will focus on federal, state and local government facilities, building operations, and green building programs. Session proposals should focus on sustainable design, construction, and operations practices for buildings and communities, with a specific focus on government-funded and operated buildings and green building programs.
See the Call for Proposals for specific presentation topic categories and submit your proposals here. The deadline for submittals is Friday, Jan. 14, 2011, at 11:59 p.m. PST.
USGBC is also seeking peer reviewers to evaluate presentation proposals for Government Summit educational sessions. Peer reviewers help to identify exceptional and timely presentations for the Government Summit audience. USGBC is looking for highly qualified reviewers familiar with government programs and buildings. Reviewers receive $50 off Government Summit registration. To become a reviewer, complete the electronic reviewer application online. The deadline for applying is Friday, Jan. 14, 2011, at 11:59 p.m. PST.
ADVOCACY AREA HIGHLIGHTS
Green Buildings for Climate Protection
At this year's Greenbuild International Conference and Expo, 40 organizations from around the world joined USGBC and World GBC in launching The Global Leadership in Our Built Environment (GLOBE) Alliance, a coalition dedicated to furthering policies and measures that support technical, regulatory, and financial resources for green communities and efficient buildings as low-carbon and no-carbon development strategies. The GLOBE Alliance is a partnership of sister GBCs from all over the world, leading businesses in the fields of sustainable solutions, and environmental organizations working to realize the emission reduction potential of the built environment.
"At this historic crossroads, the GLOBE Alliance is an absolutely vital new endeavor. The GLOBE Alliance will ensure that key decision makers in the public and private sectors, as well as the development institutions, will move with urgency and a strong sense of commitment to make the necessary investments to create a sustainable built environment," said Mayor Martin Chavez the Executive Director of ICLEI-USA and former Mayor of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Buildings remain the sector with the single greatest potential to reduce emissions worldwide, at the least cost. GLOBE seeks to capture this opportunity through educating global policymakers, financial institutions, and U.N. bodies and generating support for cost-effective, often profitable, investment in sustainable building and development practices.
Click here to read the press release about the launch of the GLOBE Alliance.
Sustainable Cities and Communities
October saw the release of the 81 sustainability goals and 10 guiding principles that make up the STAR Community Index, a national framework and performance management system that will allow local governments to measure and rate their sustainability performance. STAR, being developed by ICLEI in partnership with USGBC, the Center for American Progress, and the National League of Cities, will provide a much needed vocabulary that local governments and their communities can use to more effectively strategize and define their sustainability planning efforts.
Click here to download the goals and learn how to use them to create or revise a sustainability plan, conduct a sustainability assessment, establish local sustainability priorities, and focus ongoing sustainability initiatives.
USGBC, in concert with our partners and members, continues to focus on the advancement of additional tools for communities to use to realize their sustainability goals. In October, the International Energy Conservation Code achieved the substantial efficiency leaps sought by a host of building energy efficiency advocates and organizations, most notably the Energy Efficient Codes Coalition – approximately 30% beyond the 2006 code and 15% beyond the 2009 code as estimated by the Alliance to Save Energy. At Greenbuild in November, USGBC hosted the national release of Public Version 2.0 of the International Green Construction Code, an ongoing partnership between USGBC and a host of building industry organizations.
Green Affordable Housing
The USGBC Affordable Housing Summit, held in conjunction with the Greenbuild International Conference & Expo in Chicago this November, brought together leaders in the field of affordable housing and sustainability for educational sessions, networking opportunities and interactive green project charrettes. Speakers included prominent government officials such as Ana Marie Argilagos, Deputy Assistant Secretary at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and executives such as Karen Muchin, Executive Director of the Affordable Housing Investors' Council , David Smith, President and CEO of the Affordable Housing Institute, Jose Moulin Netto, Chairman of the Green Building Council Brasil, and more. The two-day Summit focused on innovative policy efforts and proven design and construction techniques aimed at ensuring long-term affordability and improved living conditions for low-income families across the country.
In Washington, USGBC convened a meeting of the Green Affordable Housing Coalition with top officials from the Department of Energy to discuss affordable housing issues. Leann Oliver, the head of the Office of Weatherization and Intergovernmental Program (OWIP) and Bob Adams, who supervises the Weatherization program, discussed opportunities to work together to advance green affordable housing, and ultimately better leverage funding from the Recovery Act. The discussion also included how weatherization funds could be better used for multifamily housing and in conjunction with the low income housing tax credit. The meeting was attended by USGBC, the National Housing & Rehabilitation Association, the National Housing Conference, Catholic Charities USA, Enterprise Community Partners, National Housing Trust, Stewards for Affordable Housing for the Future, the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities, and NeighborWorks America.
USGBC continues to look to fill the vacant Director of the Affordable Housing Initiative position. Interested candidates should see the job listing on USGBC.org for information on how to apply.
On Sep. 30, USGBC officially celebrated the launch of The Center for Green Schools at USGBC. The event was held at Stoddert Elementary in Washington, D.C., featuring more than 300 students and parents, teachers, USGBC Green Schools Chapter Committee Chairs and staff, as well as leadership from the National PTA, the American Lung Association, DC Public Schools Office of Facilities Modernization and others.
The announcement of the Center was picked up immediately by dozens of media outlets, including coverage in The New York Times, Greenwire, Reuters and Huffington Post. For more information about connecting with the programs and initiative of the Center for Green Schools, visit www.centerforgreenschools.org.
The Center's launch was followed shortly by the "Greening America's Schools Summit," hosted by U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), the Redford Center, and ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability USA on Nov. 7-9, 2010 at the Redford Conference Center in Sundance, Utah.
Mayors and superintendents from across the country discussed the benefits of healthy, high-performing schools and composed comprehensive action plans to green their school districts. Actor and activist Robert Redford and author and environmentalist Bill McKibben served as powerful leading voices to the discussion, while additional perspectives were provided by leaders in green design, education, arts and green schools advocacy.
Outcomes from the Summit are being compiled into a report by the host organizations, in collaboration with the American Institute of Architects (AIA). The report, scheduled for release in early 2011, will outline how school district leaders and city officials nationwide can work in tandem to advance green schools. For more information on the Summit and its participants, visit www.centerforgreenschools.org/green-schools-summit.
WHAT'S HAPPENING IN GREEN BUILDING POLICY
Local, State and National Headlines
Obama Signs Law to 'Train' Green Building Managers – Dec. 14, 2010
NC Building Council Raises Home Efficiency Rules – Dec. 14, 2010
Secretary Chu Joins 7 Other Agencies in Launching Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Export Initiative
GLOBE Alliance will Advocate for Sustainability Worldwide
ARRA Funding Provides Nearly $21 Million in Technical Assistance Projects to Dramatically Reduce Energy Use in Commercial Buildings
ICLEI Launches New Climate Adaptation Program for Local Governments
HUD Announces Pilot Program to Help Homeowners Pay for Energy Efficiency Improvements
Biden Launches Home Energy Scoring Program