On behalf of PennEnvironment’s citizen members, I am writing to urge you to support legislation to promote green buildings in Pennsylvania. In the last session, Senator Rafferty introduced SB728 while Representative Matt Smith introduced HB444. HB444 passed the house with overwhelming bipartisan support 180-17. Senator Rafferty will again sponsor green building legislation in the Senate, and Representative Harper will be sponsoring similar legislation, which has been introduced as HB193 in the House.
Legislation to promote greener, smarter construction techniques is much needed in Pennsylvania and across the United States because our buildings currently consume far too much energy—40 percent of our nation’s energy use goes to heating, lighting, cooling and powering our buildings. Most of that energy is produced from burning fossil fuels, which exacerbates global warming and endangers the public health through mercury and other air pollution that triggers asthma, chronic Bronchitis, and other respiratory ailments.
In addition, much of the energy is simply wasted because of inefficient lighting, heating, and cooling systems, as well as poor construction techniques. This results in higher-than-necessary energy bills for the building’s occupants and owners. In order to protect our environment and our economy, we need to be smarter about how we construct our buildings in Pennsylvania.
The good news is that we have green building technologies available today that can help drastically reduce our energy use. And already, there are green building success stories from across Pennsylvania:
- In York County, the Hanover school district decided to build a new “green” elementary school, which is 40% more efficient than a conventional school building. This now saves the district roughly $18,000 in annual energy costs.
- The Koenig family of Limerick, Montgomery County built the first single-family home in Pennsylvania to attain a LEED platinum certification for exemplary energy saving practices in both construction and day-to-day processes. The home is 76 percent more efficient than standard homes—resulting in energy savings of roughly $4,300 per year for the Koenig family.
- The David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh is the world’s first “green” convention center having received LEED Gold certification. A full 75 percent of the building is lit by natural daylight known as “passive solar,” and the halls are naturally ventilated, reaping energy cost savings projected at more than $500,000 annually.
- Philadelphia Eagles’ owners Jeff and Christina Lurie recently announced new plans to “green” Lincoln Financial Field by adding solar and wind power. These upgrades will save the team an estimated $60 million over the next twenty years.
In these tough economic times, we need policies to promote green construction like the ones listed above that will save local businesses and Pennsylvania’s taxpayers’ money on their utility bills.
Green buildings have far-reaching benefits: they cut global warming pollution, save Pennsylvanians money on energy bills, provide a healthy working environment for individuals, and strengthen the state’s energy system by utilizing local, renewable energy.
Legislation requiring state-funded buildings to be built smarter will cut energy costs in these buildings, while helping to promote green building technologies and the budding green building industry throughout Pennsylvania, saving our economy and environment along the way.
PennEnvironment asks you to call on your leadership to ensure that this type of legislation passes as soon as possible. To cosponsor this legislation, contact Erin Raub at Representative Harper’s office at 717-787-2801 or by email at [email protected]. Please do not hesitate to contact me by email at [email protected] or by phone at 214-500-1949 with any questions.
Clean Energy Associate