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From July 11, 2006                                                                                                        

Senator Jeffords Introduces Bipartisan Green Building Legislation
(Beyond Pesticides, July 11, 2006) Senator Jim Jeffords (I-VT) has revised and reintroduced, through a bipartisan effort, The High-Performance Green Building Act of 2006. The bill authorizes the use of $50 million over five years to encourage the development and use of energy-efficient, environmentally sound, and safe green buildings. S. 64, The High-Performance Green Building Act of 2006 is cosponsored by Senators Snowe (R-ME), Launtenberg (D-NJ), Chafee (R-RI), Boxer (D-CA), Feinstein (D-CA), Clinton (D-NJ), Lieberman (D-CT) and Obama (D-IL).

This bipartisan legislation is intended to expand federal green building initiatives and lead to healthier, more efficient schools and buildings, requiring the federal government to establish green building standards for all federal facilities. The legislation also seeks to improve federal coordination and leadership related to the use of green buildings, expand research and development of green building technology, increase in public outreach regarding green building activities (both inside and outside of the federal government), review the current budget structure and approval process for government projects, and encourage schools to improve the environmental conditions of their facilities.

According to the Building Momentum: National Trends and Prospects for High-Performance Green Buildings, a report coordinated and prepared by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) for the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, on which Senator Jeffords serves as Ranking Member, EPA estimates that 40 percent of the nation's 115,000 schools suffer from poor environmental conditions, including, among others, exposure to pesticides, cleaning agents, building materials, molds, leaking roofs, poor heating and ventilation systems, and failing plumbing, may compromise health, safety, and learning of more than 14 million students (See Daily News).

The High-Performance Green Building Act of 2006 will:

  • Require the Director of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy to issue regulations, within two years of enactment of the bill, which set environmental and efficiency standards for all government-procured buildings, whether they are bought, built, or leased;
  • Authorize $20 million over five years for an Office of High-Performance Green Buildings at the GSA to oversee the efforts of agencies within the government to construct and use green buildings;
  • Create a Green Building Advisory Committee to advise the GSA on intergovernmental coordination, the implementation of law, and emerging technology related to green buildings;
  • Expand existing research and development of green building technology;
  • Require a review of the current budget structure to address barriers to implementing green building initiatives and identify methods to more accurately analyze the cost of acquiring, constructing, and using green buildings; and,
  • Authorize EPA to award a total of $10 million over five years in grants to states and local educational agencies to better utilize existing EPA programs and to assist schools in developing environmental quality plans. (The bill also requires federal guidelines for states to use when selecting a potential site for a future school facility.)

High-performance and green buildings can improve student health and academic performance, and reduce student and teacher absenteeism. This bill would implement high-performance and green building methods on a national scale and protect the health of our nations children, workers, schoolteachers, and environments.

TAKE ACTION: Contact your U.S. Senators and request that he/she co-sponsor The High-Performance Green Building Act of 2006.