Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD) today introduced legislation to require the federal government to construct all new buildings in a more energy efficient, environmentally friendly manner. The American Green Building Act would require all new federal buildings to abide by green building Leadership and Energy in Environmental Design (LEED) silver standards, which are established by the United States Green Building Council.
“When it comes to protecting our environment, I believe the federal government must lead by example,” said Sen. Cardin, a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee. “The American government is the single largest consumer of energy in the world, spending billions every year on its own energy bills. We have a responsibility to be leaders in the world and construct our federal buildings in a manner that respects our environment. The American Green Building Act will not only save energy, it could save the American taxpayers millions in energy costs.”
American Green Building Act would require all new federal buildings to live up to green building LEED silver standards, set by the United States Green Building Council. The 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 percent less electricity, 26 percent less natural gas and 36 percent less total energy than non-certified buildings.
The federal government is the single largest energy consumer in the world. Energy used in buildings in FY 2002 accounted for 38 percent of the total federal energy bill. Total federal buildings and facilities energy expenditures in FY 2002 were $3.73 billion.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, buildings account for 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 urban air quality. Buildings produce 35 percent of the country's carbon dioxide emissionsthe chief pollutant blamed for climate change.
Sen. Cardin's legislation will also require that significant new federal government development or redevelopment projects plan for storm water runoff. Storm water runoff can carry pollutants to our streams, rivers, and oceans, and poses a significant problem for the Chesapeake Bay. 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. Development not only leads to landscape changes but also to contamination of storm water runoff by pollutants throughout the watershed. Polluted storm water often affects drinking water sources.