Washington State Lawmakers would Require New State Buildings Be 'Green'
OLYMPIA, Wash. Schools, universities and other public buildings would have to be built to meet energy efficiency, water conservation and other environmental standards under a bill given final approval by lawmakers Wednesday.
If signed by Gov. Christine Gregoire -- who has expressed support for the measure -- Washington would be the first state in the nation to have such a "green buildings" law. Several cities and municipalities have required new buildings to be built to the standards, including Chicago and Austin, Texas.
"It's good for the kids, it's good for the workers, and it's good for the taxpayers," said Democratic Rep. Hans Dunshee.
Some lawmakers argued the requirements add costs without a proven benefit.
"What's the bang for the buck?" asked Republican Rep. Bill Hinkle. "Do we need this? Is there a real compelling public interest?"
The Green Building Council, a Washington, D.C.-based industry group, says high-performance green buildings not only reduce utility costs, but increase employee productivity, reduce absenteeism and in schools, improve student test scores.
Bill sponsor Democratic Sen. Erik Poulsen said projects will cost 1 percent to 4 percent more up front, but the energy and water savings will offset that.
Final approval came on a 78-19 House vote. The bill passed the Senate earlier this month, 32-16.
Nearly 200 green buildings have been built nationwide using a standard called "leadership in energy and environmental design," according to the Green Building Council. Introduced in 2000 by the council, the guidelines call for using recycled materials, ensuring better ventilation and reducing water and energy use, among other standards.
Source: Associated Press