April 19, 2007

STATEMENT ON THE INTRODUCTION OF THE AMERICAN GREEN BUILDING ACT

Mr. President, we need to make this country energy independent, and to enact a comprehensive, long-term energy policy that will give Americans the energy they need, while protecting our environment and our national security.

As one step in this direction, today I am introducing the American Green Building Act.

Our federal government is the largest single energy consumer in the world.

Buildings account for over a third of America's energy consumption. Buildings also account for 49 percent of sulfur dioxide emissions, 25 percent of nitrous oxide emissions, and 10 percent of particulate emissions, all of which damage our air quality. Buildings produce 38 percent of the country's carbon dioxide emissions the chief pollutant blamed for global warming.

Federal buildings are a large part of this problem.

Energy used in federal buildings in FY 2002 accounted for 38% of the total Federal energy bill. Total Federal buildings and facilities energy expenditures in FY 2002 were $3.73 billion.

The American Green Building Act would require all new federal buildings to live up to green building LEED (Leadership and Energy in Environmental Design) Silver standards, set by the United States Green Building Council. These standards were created to promote sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality. The average LEED-certified building uses 32% less electricity, 26% less natural gas and 36% less total energy. LEED-certified buildings in the U.S. are in aggregate saving 150,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide reduction equivalent to 30,000 passenger cars not driven for one year. A single LEED-certified building is designed to save an average of 352 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually, which is equivalent to 70 passenger cars not driven for one year. This standard would only apply to federal buildings for which the design phase for construction or major renovation is begun after the date of enactment of the provision. The General Services Administration or relevant agency may waive this requirement for a building if it finds that the requirement cannot be met because of the quantity of energy required to carry out the building's purpose or because the building is used to carry out an activity relating to national security.

My bill will also require that significant new development or redevelopment projects undertaken but the federal government plan for storm water runoff. The hardened surfaces of modern life such as roofs, parking lots, and paved streets, prevent rainfall from infiltrating the soil. Over 100 million acres of land have been developed in the United States. Development is increasing faster than population: population growth in the Chesapeake Watershed, for example, increased by 8% during the 1990s, but the rate of impervious surface increased by 42%. Development not only leads to landscape changes but also to contamination of storm water runoff by pollutants throughout the watershed. Storm water runoff can carry pollutants to our streams, rivers, and oceans, and poses a significant problem for the Chesapeake Bay. Every other pollution source in the Chesapeake is decreasing, but pollution from storm water runoff is increasing. In urbanized areas, increased storm water runoff can cause increased flooding, stream bank erosion, degradation of in-stream habitat and a reduction in groundwater quality. For these reasons, as the federal government moves forward with development, we need to plan for how to manage storm water runoff. The storm water provisions in the American Green Building Act will be used to intercept precipitation and allow it to infiltrate rather than being collected on and conveyed from impervious surfaces.

Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that a copy of the bill be printed in the Record following my remarks.