ConstructionPro Week, Volume: Construction Advisor Today - Issue: 144 - 02/03/2012

Pennsylvania House Passes Bill Addressing High-Performance Buildings; GBI Profiles Recent Actions on Green Building Measures in Eight Other States

By Steve Rizer

The Pennsylvania House last week passed a bill (H.B. 193) that would require all state building projects to achieve a federal Energy Star rating of at least 75. The High-Performance State Standards bill would apply to state–owned or state-leased buildings and state-owned construction projects where the building exceeds 20,000 gross square feet. In addition to Pennsylvania, legislators in at least eight other states have taken recent steps to promote green buildings.

 

“H.B. 193 would enable Pennsylvania state government, including the State System of Higher Education, to serve as a model and leader for the rest of the state in smartly promoting the use of green buildings, using (and reusing) Pennsylvania products and building materials,” according to the advocacy group PennFuture. “A variety of green building rating systems would be acceptable under the bill.

“Studies show that the high-performance buildings in H.B. 193 would lead to substantial savings in operating costs over the life of the buildings, saving taxpayers money on energy and water bills. These savings come from more efficient lighting, greater use of natural light, more efficient heating and cooling systems, better-insulated walls and roofs, more efficient use of water, the use of systems that generate less wastewater, and the need to construct less water and wastewater infrastructure and capacity.”

In order to be considered a high-performance building, several minimum criteria standards involving the following would be applied:

  • Performance-based categories or credits.
     
  • Documentation, verifiable calculation, or equivalent procedures to support claims related to standards.
     
  • Third-party, post-construction review and verification for achievement of certification by an organization that has a track record of certified green buildings in the United States and uses a consensus-based rating system.

The provisions of the measure would apply to all major facility projects where design begins at least 60 days after the final regulations are issued by the state Department of General Services.

Green Building Insider Profiles Other States’ Green Building Legislation

Below is a list of green building bills in eight other states that either have been introduced or voted upon recently:

ARIZONA

H.B. 2083 -- By 2014, all school districts and charter schools would adopt a green cleaning policy as well as purchase and use environmentally sensitive cleaning products. If adopting a green cleaning policy that is not economically feasible, until such time that it is economically feasible, the school district or charter school would provide annual written notification about this to the state Department of Education.

H.B. 2085 -- Under this bill, all existing state buildings exceeding 50,000 square feet would conform to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards in a manner prescribed by the state Energy Office.

INDIANA

H.B. 1160 -- The bill would establish a 15-member Indiana Green Program Task Force, which would explore the feasibility of creating green space by acquiring or creating natural habitats and using green space as a means to promote economic development. The task force would recommend legislation to the general assembly to establish an Indiana green program pilot project that would do the following: encourage the development and promotion of high-technology products and services for global export that are related to industrial production practices that create or sustain green space; and focus on computer system hardware and software research and development products and services by conducting research and development efforts using Indiana University resources, establishing and using an industrial incubator program, and establishing a globally competitive entrepreneurial ecosystem of Indiana-based university and high-technology startup companies.

IOWA

H.F. 394 (comparable bill: S.F. 1091) -- This bill would establish a high-performance certification program administered by the state Department of Public Safety and applied to public buildings. The measure is designed to promote effective energy and environmental standards for the design, construction, renovation, and maintenance of public buildings. The bill further states that these standards would improve the capacity of the state to operate high-performance buildings to increase energy independence; increase demand for environmentally preferable building materials, finishes, and furnishings; reduce waste generation and manage waste through recycling and diversion from landfill disposal; and establish life-cycle-cost analysis as the appropriate and most efficient analysis to determine the optimal performance level of a building project. The department would adopt rules establishing the program with the goal of reducing operating costs of public buildings by decreasing the consumption of energy, water, and other resources and, where feasible, increasing the use of wind, solar, geothermal, and other “proven” sources of alternative energy; recovering the increased initial capital costs attributable to compliance with the program over time by reducing long-term energy, maintenance, and operating expenses; and improving the indoor environmental quality of public buildings for a healthier work environment. The bill defines a public building as a facility that is constructed or renovated in whole or in part with state funds or with funds guaranteed or insured by a state agency.

S.F. 2046 -- The bill would establish a property tax exemption for property meeting specified energy-efficiency and environmental-quality standards. For assessment years beginning in January 2013, the exemption provided in the bill for each eligible property would be limited to one of the following: 2 percent of the amount of actual value of the permanent improvements to the property if the property was certified by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) during the previous five years as meeting or exceeding LEED Silver; 5 percent of the amount of actual value of the permanent improvements to the property if the property was certified by USGBC during the previous five years as meeting or exceeding LEED Gold; and 10 percent of the amount of actual value of the permanent improvements to the property if the property was certified by USGBC during the previous five years as meeting or exceeding LEED Platinum.

MISSOURI

S.B. 488 -– Under this proposal, state-funded buildings exceeding 5,000 square feet constructed after Aug. 28 would have to be certified, at minimum, as meeting the Two Globes level under the Green Globes building rating system. The bill prescribes certain points that would have to be earned in achieving the Two Globes certification. The state Office of Administration could waive the points requirements for economic-feasibility reasons. State-funded building renovation and commercial interior fit-out projects would be analyzed under one of several options, including a life-cycle-cost analysis comparing the costs and benefits of renovating to the Two Globes standard, normal industry standards, or a building standard in between. The office could petition the General Assembly to require all state-funded building construction and renovation projects to meet a different or additional high-performance building standard, provided that such building standard is at least as stringent as the Green Globes standard. The bill would require periodic inspections of buildings built to the Two Globes standard. The inspector would have to report its findings to the office and the state agency that occupies the building. For 15 years, the office would monitor and evaluate the energy and environmental benefits associated with each building subject to the measure’s requirements.

NEW YORK

A. 1415 (comparable bill: S. 1462) -- The bill would authorize a municipal corporation to provide a real property tax exemption for improvements to real property meeting LEED certification standards for green buildings. A. 1415 was reported to the Assembly Ways and Means Committee Jan. 24, and S. 1462 was referred to the Senate Local Government Committee Jan. 4.

OREGON

H.B. 4166 -– The bill would allow the state Department of Energy to require applicants seeking tax credit certification to demonstrate whether efficiency standards of energy-conservation projects are eligible for certification under certain forest product stewardship systems. The measure applies to applications for preliminary certification for energy conservation tax credits filed after the beginning of next year.

UTAH

H.J.R. 1 -– This joint resolution would encourage the state Board of Education (BoE) and school districts in the state to consider ways to establish green schools. The resolution would encourage BoE to consider “the broader application of the design and construction practices for green schools, both for new construction and major renovation projects undertaken with school district funds.” The resolution additionally would encourage school districts to consider seeking application for certification of green schools under the LEED rating system or certification under a comparable system with requirements at least equivalent to LEED Silver for new or retrofit construction, or other building performance systems such as Energy Star.

WEST VIRGINIA

H.B. 2024 -– Under this bill, all major facility projects of public agencies would be designed, constructed, and certified to at least the LEED Silver standard. This provision applies to major facility projects that have not entered the design phase prior to last July 1. All major facility projects of a public school district, where the project receives any state funding, would be designed, constructed, and certified to at least LEED Silver. This provision would apply to major facility projects that have not entered the design phase prior to the beginning of this year. All major facility projects by any person, corporation, or entity other than a public agency or public school district, where the project receives any state funding, would be designed, constructed, and certified to at least LEED Silver. This provision applies to major facility projects that have not entered the grant-application process prior to the beginning of this year. There would be exceptions under certain circumstances.

 

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