The state of California recently followed the city of Los Angeles and other local jurisdictions in establishing a green building standard, affirming that building green is only becoming more relevant and essential for developers and builders. In order to detail the current regulations and benefits related to green building, TPR is pleased to present the following excerpts from a VERDEXCHANGE Green Marketmakers Conference panel entitled "Build Green: Sustainable Projects/Practice."
Gail Goldberg, director, Los Angeles Department of City Planning: Let me start by noting that many local jurisdictions, including the city of Los Angeles, have embraced sustainability. Our mayor, as you may have heard earlier this morning, wants Los Angeles to be the greenest big city in the country, and we have advanced a host of green initiatives.
We, for example, have developed and put in place development standards and requirements for green buildings. We adopted an ordinance about a year and a half ago that all buildings of 50 units or 50,000 square feet and over six floors need to meet the LEED standard. Very recently we lowered this threshold so that more buildings are included in those requirements. The county also has some similar requirements. Local governments have begun an effort to initiate requirements for green building.
I'm going to ask our first panelist, Panama Bartholomy, to talk a little about what the state is doing through the Energy Commission, but also to talk a little bit about what Energy Commission is doing in terms of green building standards.
Panama Bartholomy, advisor to California Energy Commission Chair Karen Douglas: At the California Energy Commission we're really involved in three general ways when it comes to green building. One: we set building energy efficiency standards for any new buildings or retrofits that take place in California. Two: any local government that is going to adopt a local green building ordinance that calls for some level of energy efficiency has to get an approval by the Energy Commission before they implement that ordinance. On that approval the application has to show that the ordinance would bring about buildings that exceed the basic building energy code for the state of California right now. Three: we fund research and development activities around building energy issues.
What's been happening in California, as Gail mentioned, is really because of the leadership of organizations such as the United States Green Building Council and Build It Green for commercial and residential buildings, respectively. Those two organizations and the standards they set out, LEED and GreenPoint Rated, are industry-based standards-developed from small industry actors. We're talking about builders, architects, government agencies, and environmental groups coming together to develop leadership standards. Over 150 local governments across California have adopted a green building program based on these leadership standards. The state government has over 150 LEED certified buildings going forward...
Just two weeks ago the state of California became the first state in the nation to adopt a green building code. This is where we're going to start to get into what I'm really concerned about, which is some of the market confusion and the language that's being used to describe the green building code and what that's going to mean for the future of green building in the state of California.
To be clear, the CALGREEN building code has three different components to it. It has mandatory measures. By January 1, 2011, all buildings built in California will have to meet a new standard based on environmental protection rather than the usual health, safety, and welfare that we have for building standards. It has a voluntary section or "reach standards." For the first time ever we're putting voluntary standards into a state building code, saying this is where the state will be going in the future, and if you want to start trying some of the practices or methods out, here is what it looks like. That section is based in part on GreenPoint and put into a language that building officials can actually understand so it will be easily adaptable over the future years into the mandatory parts of the code.
Lastly, for the first time ever, a state has now put a rating system into a building code. The concern around the rating system is how this will match up with the leadership programs that have already been adopted in jurisdictions across California. The rating system that has been put out has very little in the way of verification methodologies that are required in leadership standards put out by the U.S. Green Building Council and GreenPoint Rated. There's a real concern about what this is going to mean for the future of the industry moving forward. Look at some of the language used and some of the press that's been written already about the standards and you have conflicting and confusing messages.
I read an article just last week talking about the standards and how now all buildings that meet these new mandatory standards will be certifiably green in the state of California, which means that starting January 1, 2011, all buildings in California are green as long as they meet the minimum building code of the state of California. In one fell swoop we have redefined what it means to build a green building in the state of California. We used to have LEED and GreenPoint Rated, and now we have a far lower standard than that. Let me be clear: there is no honor, you should get no award, you should get no pat on the back, for meeting code in California or any other part of the nation. Yet now we have a number of groups, whether naively or disingenuously, appropriating this new code and using it to call their buildings green.
We've made some real progress, because we now have industry fully adopting the language of green building, but I am very concerned that we are going to have a significant amount of market confusion over the next few years as we try to figure out where this building code fits with the leadership standards that have already been adopted moving forward. It's going to be an incredibly exciting time in California as we go down this path of transferring green building into code; there's going to be a number of learning opportunities moving forward. But let me just say that from the California Energy Commission, we always encourage local governments, builders, architects to build the most energy efficient buildings they absolutely can, using whatever rating system they can, to project a message of leadership for what they want for their communities. I look forward to working with you folks in the future to make sure that the Energy Commission incorporates policies to help you do that. Thank you very much for your time.
Bryan Jackson, editor, Green Building Update; partner, Allen Matkins; adjunct professor, USC, Green and Sustainable Construction: ...President Obama's Executive Order 13154 started a "quiet green revolution" that will pull much of the public and private sectors into green and sustainable construction and green procurement. Why? Since the largest landlord and the biggest end user in the United States is the federal government, any order that mandates green and sustainable construction and green procurement throughout the federal government will have a profound ripple effect throughout the entire U.S. economy.
In the past few years, federal and state governments have become increasingly focused on climate change, greenhouse gas emissions and the economy of green. The economic downturn helped push the House to pass the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES) on June 26, 2009 with the following features:
• obtain 20 percent of utility electricity from renewables and efficiencies by 2020;
• obtain 17 percent CO2 reductions by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050 based on 2005 levels;
• set energy standards for buildings, appliances, industry;
• invest $90 billion in renewable technology;
• invest $60 billion in CO2 sequestration;
• invest $20 billion in electric vehicles;
• invest $20 billion in basic R&D;
• establish tropical deforestation prevention programs;
• establish protections from energy price increases;
• establish cap-and-trade and offsets programs;
• establish federal electric transmission line authority.
ACES was intended to create green jobs, achieve energy independence, lower global warming emissions, and move the United States toward a clean energy economy. ACES proved to be controversial and only passed by seven votes in the Democratic party-controlled House. ACES moved to the Senate, but the Senate seems reluctant to take up anything other than health care legislation at this time.
My humble suggestion to Congress is that if it really wants to pass ACES, politicians should steer the bill and the debate away from climate change, global warming, greenhouse gasses, and related controversial issues toward something that makes sense for both Republicans and Democrats: dollars and cents. Make ACES an economic issue. If we move forward as a nation to save energy, water, and other resources, and create green jobs and products, we will foster real dollar dividends in the public and private sectors.
For example, various products around the world have energy rating labels, such as cars, water heaters, and other appliances. If ACES passes as currently drafted, we could have energy rating labels for buildings. This is already a reality in the U.K. One can compare the energy usage and the cost savings of any building in the U.K. against any other U.K. building, which allows developers and property managers to compete with each other for tenants who want to save on energy costs, water usage and enjoy many other green and sustainable building benefits which saves dollars and cents. Such competition allows the market place to push buildings to the level of green and sustainable construction that makes economic sense over time.
However, even without ACES, Executive Order 13154 already quietly mandated the federal government to move forward with green and sustainable construction and green procurement. The federal government owns or occupies 500,000 buildings totaling 3 billion square feet, employees over 1.8 million civilians, and purchases over $500 billion in products annually. By mandating that federal buildings and procurement be green and sustainable, the federal government will be changing the entire public and private landscape. For example, if a company manufactures paper, in order to sell paper to the federal government, E.O. 13154 will require that company's practices and manufacturing process to meet certain levels of green and sustainable business and manufacturing. Rather than carry on business practices and manufacturing using green processes under federal regulations and non-green processes for the private sector, most companies will create one process and business practice for both that will be green and sustainable. Accordingly, every segment of the economy that provides construction, services, or manufactured goods for the federal government, will, as a practical matter, need to modify their public and private businesses to comply with the applicable E.O. 13154 green and sustainable mandates.
The federal government could have adopted the U.S. Green Building Councils' LEED standards, which are widely used in the United States. Instead E.O. 13154 created its own standards called LEEP, or Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance. While we applaud LEEP's emphasis on the economic performance, which is a win-win concept, but we are concerned that there will be growing pains and bugs to be worked out under these new standards. The federal government believes that LEEP will be an effort to lead by example and push for change across the country.
Executive Order 13154 requires compliance with numerous goals to increase efficiency, reduce the use of petroleum from the federal fleet of cars, and leverage what we have written about in the Green Building Update-the design, construction, and maintenance of high-performance sustainable buildings. That is partly what the federal government is adopting with LEEP, high-performance building standards.
E.O. 13154 is backed by $80 billion in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) dollars. Therefore, this is a mandate with funding that gives it real teeth. The $80 billion ARRA money will be invested as follows:
• $11 billion to build the grid to move renewable energy from production to the cities and provide 40 million residential smart meters;
• $5 billion for low-income home weatherization projects;
• $4.5 billion to green federal buildings and save billions in federal energy bills;
• $6.3 billion for state and local renewable energy and energy efficiency efforts;
• $600 million in green job training programs including
• $100 million to expand line worker training programs;
• $500 million for green workforce training; and
• $2 billion in competitive grants to develop better batteries.
E.O. 13154 requires each federal agency to draft its own implementing regulations. Agency programs will be monitored with annual "scorecards" as a transparent way to hold each agency accountable for its compliance efforts, to review the economic and social benefits, and to expand programs when net benefits occur. These regulations will provide ways that each agency will comply with the following goals and targets:
• set 2020 greenhouse gas emissions targets relative to a 2008 baseline;
• increase energy efficiency;
• meet 30 percent reduction in vehicle fleet petroleum use by 2020;
• meet 26 percent improvement in water efficiency by 2020;
• meet 50 percent recycling and construction waste diversion by 2015;
• set guidelines for federal building locations that comply with the Livability Principles provided by HUD, DOT, and EPA;
• support sustainable communities;
• assure 95 percent of all federal procurement contracts meet sustainability requirements and leverage federal government purchasing power;
• require agencies to design, construct, maintain, and operate high performance sustainable buildings in sustainable locations;
• meet stormwater laws under Energy Independence and Security Act, part 438;
• implement zero-net-energy buildings by 2030; and
• meet Guiding Principles for Federal Leadership in High Performance and Sustainable Buildings for new construction and major renovations.
As for California, we have the first ever state wide green building code, which becomes mandatory on January 1, 2011. Further, the state and its cities and counties have enacted numerous green and sustainable construction and development laws. Los Angeles and many other cities in California indicate that they are already complying with the Kyoto Protocol to reduce emissions to 1990 levels. Governor Schwarzenegger's Executive Order S-3-05 requires Californians to reduce emissions to 2000 levels by 2010, 1990 levels by 2020, and 80 percent of 1990 levels by 2050.
What does that mean for Californians? Right now each of us creates an average of 14 tons of carbon per person. To reduce emissions to 80 percent of 1990 levels would mean that Californians could only create 1.5 tons of carbon per person per year. France, has a very low emissions average of 6.5 tons of carbon per person per year due to its extensive nuclear power program. To achieve 1.5 tons per person per year, Californians would be emitting less than their colonial ancestors emitted. This goal will be an amazingly difficult challenge to meet in the next 40 years, but Californians can achieve this goal if they have the will to act, the innovation of their scientific minds, and the engagement of their entrepreneurial spirit.
Larry Eisenberg, executive director of facilities planning, Los Angeles Community College District: The L.A. Community College District has been at this since 2002, when our Board of Trustees adopted a policy that said every building that we built would be built to LEED certified standards (the lowest LEED level), and we would demonstrate renewable energy, 15-25 percent of energy in our new buildings, which would allow us to demonstrate the technology is possible.
I want to begin with the end of the story-what is happening now-because it relates to the issue of design standards. We have developed sustainable design standards that all of our architecture meets, and we have probably 100 architects and engineers working for us to design projects...What I believe the standard should be is what we should be calling for in Los Angeles, in California, and in the federal government: zero energy buildings. There is no doubt that we need to adopt a standard that goes way beyond where LEED Platinum goes: zero energy buildings...
In 1906 the patent on air conditioning changed the way we build buildings. The result today is lovely architecture that hogs energy. We need to rethink that. We need to think about water efficiency. We are installing low flow irrigation systems, or, better yet, no irrigation because we are putting in native plants. We are putting in water capture systems and we are putting in grey water to reuse any water we can capture. We are changing the nature of the business of building design to create buildings that people love to be in. We let daylight in; we use low profile organic materials, operable windows, and energy efficient lighting. Where we have to, we have high efficiency HVAC. We are changing the materials we use in the building process.
Because we have such a large program-we are going to spend about $6 billion, which includes general obligation bond funding-we have been able to change the way that carpeting in the United States is produced into a more sustainable process. We're implementing coating that makes it possible not to clean buildings or windows. We've been working in the area of concrete to utilize high-volume fly ash concrete, which is a by-product of burning coal. Cement is the worst-polluting material in the United States-12 percent of the electricity is used to make porous cement. That is a significant source of greenhouse gas production. We are using impervious concrete and other technology that requires no power.
We are implementing a comprehensive energy strategic plan that will provide for a sustainable central plant using solar thermal technology. We're putting in demand management measures like occupancy sensors, so when there aren't people in the room the lights aren't on. And we're putting in, hopefully, eventually, renewables like solar-different kinds of photovoltaic, thin film, and concentrated technology-to cover the majority of our electrical load.
Finally, we are building buildings that support our mission to talk about green jobs and what we can do for the future. That covers a broad range of different ideas like solar, wind, and geothermal, business of operations and maintenance, and technical licenses. That creates new jobs and ultimately helps us create the kinds of solutions that we need today.