Green Buildings: Multi-State Agenda Campaign Update

Given that buildings continue to be the source of disproportionate energy usage, green buildings legislation is critical to increasing energy efficiency across the country. These initiatives include greater performance and sustainability standards for state buildings, including schools, providing incentives for private investments in energy efficiency, and creating innovative loan programs like the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program.

State Buildings: Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear recently signed HB 240, mandating all new and renovated buildings for which the state government pays more than 50 percent of the total capital costs to be designed and constructed under new high-performance standards. In Ohio, HB 7 requires buildings using state capital moneys to adhere to sustainability standards. Similar bills have been introduced in Nebraska (LB 977), Missouri (HB 1667), West Virginia (HB 2948), New Hampshire (SB 409), New Jersey (AB 2222 and SB 452), Wisconsin (AB 843), and Alabama (SB 87) promoting energy efficient standards for state-owned buildings. In an attempt to maximize job creation as well as to conserve energy, Arizona Rep. Kyrsten Sinema introduced HB 2356. Rhode Island lawmakers are pursuing similar goals with HB 7720, the Green Buildings and Job Creation Act. In Washington state, Rep. Hans Dunshee has introduced HB 2561, issuing bonds for capital improvements to public facilities that will generate energy savings and create jobs.

Green Schools: There has been a growing trend of green school legislation in 2010. In Hawaii, HB 2321 and SB 2613 require Hawaii’s Department of Education to implement alternative energy designs for the construction or renovation of school buildings. Similar bills in Kentucky (SB 132) and New Jersey (SB 239) promote energy efficient designs in school buildings. In Missouri, HB 1922 provides grants for school districts that obtain LEED certification. By the same token, the Nebraska High Performance Schools Initiative Act, co-sponsored by Sens. Ken Haar and Heath Mello, provides grants to schools that seek infrastructural improvements that will save energy, improve the well-being of students and their academic performance, and create jobs.

Economic Incentives for Energy Efficient Construction and Renovation: Even as progressive legislators cope with massive budget cuts, they are finding innovative ways to promote energy efficiency construction and renovation while allowing tax credits, creating jobs, and providing other monetary incentives. In Iowa, Rep. Nathan Riechert has introduced HF 201, which allows a tax credit to apartment buildings and rental units that meet green building certification requirements. HB 445 in Pennsylvania offers a similar tax credit for high performance buildings.

Hawaii lawmakers are proposing an incentive program, HB 2557, based on bonuses for developers that construct green buildings. A bill in Colorado (HB 1332) creates a pilot program that awards grants to home-buyers who are selling current primary residents to purchase highly efficient new residences. Through weatherization legislation, certain states are trying to construct and rehabilitate residential structures for low-income families while creating job opportunities for the community. These types of bills have been introduced in Kentucky, through the introduction of HB408, and in Washington state, where SB 6468is ready for the Governor’s signature.

Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Bills: More than 15 states have enacted PACE legislation, and this year, four states are pushing this agenda forward. As a champion of green energy, Hawaii is also considering two bills on property assessed clean energy. One of them is SB 2865, which would provide a bond to commercial and residential property owners to finance efficiency improvements and small renewable energy systems. Accompanying this bill is HB 2643, which seeks to deposit PACE bond proceeds into a clean energy bond loan revolving fund. Similarly, legislators in Missouri through HB 2178, HB 2298 and SB 1037, are aiming to create a property assessed clean energy local finance fund through the implementation of the property assessed clean energy program and the Clean Energy Development Board. In Michigan,HB 5640 creates the Property Assessed Clean Energy Act and in New Jersey the bipartisan introduction of AB 2500 also creates the Renewable Energy District Financing Act.

To view a full map of green buildings bills moving in the states, please click the map above, or click here.

For model legislation, talking points, analysis of recent cases, ideas for messaging, a list of allies, and reports on the subject, please visit our Green Buildings campaign page.