On Wednesday, May 14, actor and Enterprise Communities trustee Ed Norton, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and other experts in the field of green buildings appeared before Chairman Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming to discuss how more efficient buildings and better building policies can reduce energy costs and cut global warming pollution.
Ed Norton noted that “residential units – owner occupied houses and rental apartments together – account for the largest share of energy use and greenhouse gas emissions of any building type. The homes of our lowest income citizens, including vulnerable populations like seniors and the disabled, are especially needy and deserving of improvements to increase their energy and water efficiency, improve their indoor air quality and connect them to transit and green space.” To that end, Enterprise Community Partners is calling for a national commitment to greening affordable housing for both rehab and new construction.
Mayor Newsom’s testimony focused primarily on the benefits of implementing LEED energy conservation standards to San Francisco’s building stock and in particular how “trends show that both soft and hard costs for green buildings are decreasing as the market continues to grow and mature. These costs decrease as designers, builders, subcontractors and manufactures gain experience in an expanding market.” Newsome also noted green buildings are good for the commercial leasing business. Buildings that carry LEED or Energy Star certifications have been shown to have higher occupancy rates and lease for more dollars per square foot than their peers (Co-Star Group, March 2008). One major study, which analyzed a database covering billions of square feet of commercial buildings, concluded that “non-green buildings are going to become obsolete.”
However, the National Trust is committed to demonstrating that older and historic buildings are not considered “obsolete” simply because of their age and condition because they are already “green buildings” based on the embodied energy contained within these existing structures. For that reason, the National Trust is closely monitoring congressional efforts to include rehabilitation as part of any new major federal policy initiatives that contribute to sustainability and preservation of older and historic buildings.
Reprinted by permission of the Public Policy Department of the National Trust