Philadelphia, PA - A comprehensive plan to make our nation's buildings
more efficient could save enough energy by 2030 to power all of the
nation's cars, homes and businesses for a year and a half, while saving
Americans more than $500 billion, according to a new report by
PennEnvironment. These findings offer a preview of what Pennsylvania
could achieve by adopting green building policies, such as the statewide
green building code proposed by Governor Rendell in February, and the
many policies being pushed by state and local officials who joined
PennEnvironment in releasing the report.
"Green buildings are a triple win for Pennsylvania, saving us money on energy bills, cutting global warming pollution, and helping to secure our energy future," said Nathan Willcox, Energy & Clean Air Advocate for PennEnvironment. "We have the technologies to realize these benefits, and now we need the policies to put these solutions to work."
Nearly half of America's energy-and 10 percent of the energy used in the world-goes towards powering our buildings, and much of that energy is wasted. And buildings account for 40 percent of total U.S. carbon dioxide emissions, a major contributor to global warming. But PennEnvironment's new report, Building a Better Future: Moving Toward Zero Pollution With Highly Efficient Homes and Businesses, found that by renovating old buildings, and ensuring new buildings use 50 percent less energy within ten years and are "zero energy" by 2030, we can cut U.S. global warming emissions at least 34 percent by 2050. The report also outlines policy steps that local, state and federal officials can take to promote green buildings and make these benefits a reality.
PennEnvironment was joined in releasing the report by state legislators Rep. Matt Smith (Allegheny County), Rep. Kate Harper (Montgomery County), Sen. John Rafferty (Berks, Chester & Montgomery counties) and Sen. Daylin Leach (Delaware & Montgomery counties), all of whom have introduced state-level legislation to help promote green buildings in Pennsylvania.
"Changing the future of Pennsylvania must start by building momentum," Rep. Matt Smith (D-Allegheny) said. "Last year, we got the ball rolling by enacting my proposal to provide grants that encourage green construction and renovation. Next, I'm proposing that we require state dollars only be spent on green construction or renovation projects. I trust that PennEnvironment's ongoing advocacy and expertise - like this new report - will help build the momentum among my fellow lawmakers needed to not only build more green buildings, but to develop a comprehensive green building strategy that benefits Pennsylvania's future."
"There is no better way to protect the environment and save on our energy bills than by investing in green building technologies. To encourage that investment, I have proposed a tax credit for the construction or renovation of buildings using green standards," said state Rep. Kate Harper (R-Montgomery). "As the cost of energy rises and the green building technology gets better, the payback is about five to seven years, so building green makes a lot of sense for the environment, energy independence and the pocketbook."
"My green buildings legislation is a win-win for the environment and reduces business energy costs," added Republican state Senator John Rafferty who represents Berks, Chester and Montgomery counties.
"My bill SB399 will make it possible to circumvent the penny-wise and pound-foolish thinking that prevents real solutions to our environmental crisis. The savings of a Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) compliant building over the 30-40 year life span of a school will supersede the initial cost by significant amounts," said state Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Delaware, Montgomery counties). "By amending Act 34 my legislation would give schools the incentive to build cleaner, greener schools. Not thinking about the future is what got us into this mess in the first place."
Also joining PennEnvironment in releasing the report were Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato, the Delaware Valley Green Building Council, the Philadelphia Friends Center, Green Building Alliance and CJL Engineering.
"Southwestern Pennsylvania is a national leader in sustainable development and environmental stewardship, and my administration is continually working to keep us ahead of the curve," said Allegheny County Executive Onorato. "Just yesterday, I announced that we would build the first publicly owned green roof in Allegheny County. We're already home to the first LEED Gold Certified convention center in the U.S., and soon we'll boast the first LEED Gold Certified arena in the NHL. As a community, we've taken steps to clean our air, water and land and to promote smart growth and green development - but we can and must do more. Green infrastructure is good for the environment and good for taxpayers."
"Delaware Valley is well-positioned to implement green building strategies quickly. We have leadership, expertise and commitment to make Philadelphia the best it can be," said Jill Kowalski, Executive Director of the Delaware Valley Green Building Council. "Philadelphia is home to several green building firsts. Green buildings are key to managing future risk, strengthening our local economy and communities, and showcasing our leadership and expertise."
"We at the Friends Center realized that the medium- and long-term benefits of building green were well worth the upfront costs," said Erick Emerick with the Philadelphia Friends Center, whose building is being renovated to include a number of green building technologies and use no energy from fossil fuels. "From the building's geothermal heating and cooling system to the solar panels and green roof, our green building will be reaping tremendous economic and environmental benefits for years to come."
"Given the mission of the Green Building Alliance to drive the green building movement throughout Western Pennsylvania, we are very appreciative of the work that PennEnvironment has done in preparing this report," commented Holly Childs, Executive Director of the Green Building Alliance. "The facts speak for themselves-it is imperative, particularly given our current economy, that we enact policies based on investment in green building strategies toward long-term energy savings for both businesses and consumers. We look forward to working with PennEnvironment and our state and local policymakers to advance legislation and recommendations that support green construction and energy efficiency."
PennEnvironment's report calls for a comprehensive plan to make buildings more efficient, including: