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EQSC Hears Testimony on Green Buildings September 18, 2008

Posted by Laura Arnold in Uncategorized.

Members of the Environmental Quality Service Council (EQSC) heard testimony on a variety of topics including including green buildings, the Indiana Energy Code and geothermal energy.

Please find below testimony presented by Bill Brown on behalf of the Indiana Chapter of AIA and the Indiana Chapter of the US Green Building Council. Others testifying included Fred Gray with Green Way Supply, Tim Maloney with the Hoosier Environmental Council, Tony Cooper with Water Furnace as well as several students with the DePauw University Environmental Policy Project. Testimony was also presented by the Indiana Association of Counties, the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns, the Indiana Builders Asociation as well as Hoosier Energy and Randy Stair with Stair Associates.

Rep. Dave Wolkins also distributed a report from the National Center for Policy Analysis by Todd Myers entitled, “Green Schools Don’t Make the Grade”. See http://www.ncpa.org/pub/ba/ba622/

Testimony before the Environmental Quality Service Council (EQSC)
September 16, 2008
William M. Brown, AIA, LEED AP

Mr. Chairman, Members of the Council, my name is Bill Brown and I am an architect representing the American Institute of Architects, Indiana Chapter and U.S. Green Building Council, Indiana Chapter. Both organizations support the Governor’s Executive Order No. 08-14, entitled “Energy Efficient State Building Initiative” and we are prepared to support legislation that moves the state towards more sustainable buildings and communities.

Sustainable building initiatives using the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED benchmark, including legislation, executive orders, resolutions, ordinances, policies, and incentives are found in 44 states, including 159 localities (105 cities, 29 counties, and 25 towns), 31 state governments, 12 federal agencies or departments, 15 public school jurisdictions and 38 institutions of higher education across the United States.
Since Indiana has not updated its energy code, new public buildings may be built to the lowest energy standards in the country and all Hoosier taxpayers pay for that mistake as long as those buildings stand. Any initial savings are erased after a year or two of paying the utility bills and then it is all downhill from there. With energy costs predicted to rise significantly in coming years, this mistake will be become increasingly more apparent.
What the Governor’s executive order mandates that we turn that around and make a sound investment up front that pays increasing dividends for the life of the building. Green buildings have an average return on investment of 25 to 40 percent and the typical payback for the extra initial investment is 3-5 years and falling rapidly (Kats Group). Compare that dividend to other investments the state might make on behalf of taxpayers today. A major cost study by The Langdon Group, Cost of Green Revisited: Reexamining the Feasibility and Cost Impact of Sustainable Design in the Light of Increased Market Adoption showed that there is now “no significant difference in average cost for green buildings as compared to non-green buildings.“
Another study by New Buildings Institute of 1,300 LEED certified and Energy Star buildings showed that new buildings certified under the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) LEED certification system are, on average, performing 25 to 30% better than non-LEED certified buildings in terms of energy use. Gold and Platinum LEED certified buildings have average energy savings approaching 50%.
Under construction now in Indiana are over 125 projects seeking LEED certification totaling over $1 billion in construction cost. These projects range from affordable housing to the new Midfield Terminal. They include new construction, interior remodels, major renovations, factories, warehouses, office buildings and taxpayer-funded public facilities.
Ten buildings have been certified in Indiana at all levels from Certified to Platinum, including five state-funded projects. Leading architects, engineers, contractors and suppliers have learned how to use the system in a manner that is cost effective and economical.
Buildings account for 39% of the total energy use and nearly 70% of the electricity in the United States. Buildings also account for 12% of water use, 30% of greenhouse gas emissions, and 65% of waste output.
Certified green buildings go beyond energy savings, however. A study of certified green buildings by Capital E revealed average energy savings of 30%, carbon savings of 35%, water savings of 30 to 50% and waste cost savings of 50 to 90%.
Sustainable building design incorporates features that reduce overall infrastructure costs for cities, counties and the state by encouraging smarter site selection, reduced water, storm water and sewer needs and less landfill space. Sustainable building rating systems encourage preservation of open space for local agriculture.
Five blocks from where you sit is the first LEED certified building in Indianapolis, the headquarters of i.d.o. Incorporated, at 601 North Capitol Avenue. This remodel of an existing building cost a total of $325,000. According to the owner’s records, their additional investment for high performance LEED Silver elements of the building cost an extra $5,850 or 1.8% of the total cost. Their annual return on that investment was 9% for the first year for electricity cost savings alone and that savings is expected to grow as energy costs grow, for the life of the building.
Their return on investment for energy savings are just the beginning. The improvements in comfort, indoor air quality, daylight and view in a certified green building have demonstrated employee productivity gains of 5% to 15% in various studies. Other documented dividends from the investment in green buildings include lower absenteeism, higher employee retention, faster student learning, lower health insurance costs and easier recruiting of new hires.
Improved employee health and productivity are primary reasons why 12 Federal agencies require a LEED Silver or equivalent certification for all major building projects. In the private sector, developers of office buildings have found gains in employee productivity, health and retention to be a driving factor in the exponential growth in the number of LEED certified commercial buildings. McGraw Hill Construction Research predicted that by 2009, 82% of the nation’s 500 largest corporations will have certified at least 16% of their real estate portfolios. It’s time for the state of Indiana to catch this wave.
Chrisney Branch Library, under construction in Spencer County, will be the state’s first net-zero-energy public building. It bid under budget for $140 per square foot. Using a highly efficient building envelope, daylighting, geothermal heating and cooling and an 8.9kW solar photovoltaic array, this public building is designed to have virtually no operating costs and it will be immune to future energy cost increases for the next thirty years. Why aren’t all public buildings built that way?
Existing buildings can also be renovated green with outstanding financial and environmental benefits. Adobe software’s massive office complex recently achieved the highest level LEED Platinum certification for existing buildings. They spent $1.4 million on improvements and received $389,000 in rebates and incentives from their local utility company. They realize $1.2 million in annual savings, a 9.5 month payback and a 121% return on their investment. What if the State of Indiana did that with some of their existing buildings?
I think we can all agree that Indiana public buildings could use some improvement with respect to energy efficiency and sustainability. With any successful improvement process, there is a need for benchmarks, for clear indicators of success. The Governor’s Executive Order and HB1280 contain benchmarks for success. Energy Star is an almost universally accepted benchmark for energy efficiency created by the Department of Energy. USGBC’s LEED rating system incorporates Energy Star and is a more comprehensive benchmark that includes site, water, materials and indoor air quality measures as well. We urge you to tie any legislation for change to a specific benchmark to measure success and avoid charges of greenwashing. The most widely accepted and most comprehensive such benchmark is the LEED rating system, but we also support giving implementers a range of other recognized third-party verification systems.
In closing, on behalf of the American Institute of Architects Indiana Chapter and the U.S. Green Building Council Indiana Chapter, I ask for your support of this important legislation to invest in sustainable buildings for the benefit of all current and future Indiana taxpayers and all those people who will live, learn and work in state buildings. The two organizations I represent will be happy to offer their member’s expertise in further refining legislation that is simple, effective, fair and affordable. I appreciate the opportunity to address you and I will be happy to respond to any questions.

Additional resources:

Others testifying in favor of Green Buildings.

Fred Gray with Green Way Supply.



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