OPENING STATEMENT BY SENATOR INHOFE
Hearing on "Green Buildings: Benefits to
Health, the Environment, and the Bottom Line"
Thank you, Madam Chairman. I appreciate you holding this hearing today to discuss some of the issues relating to green buildings.
Today we will hear from our panel of five green building experts about some of the benefits that can be realized through following the principles of so-called “green building.” Two of the goals of green building that are of particular merit are increased energy efficiency and improved water management.
Increased energy efficiency – along with developing new domestic sources of energy and ensuring a diverse energy supply – is a key component of improving our nation’s energy security. Just a few weeks ago, Madam Chairman, we unanimously passed a bill out of this committee – the Public Buildings Cost Reduction Act – that is a sensible, effective step toward improving energy efficiency in public buildings at both the Federal and local levels.
Effective use of green building design can also be used by communities across the country struggling to comply with the federal stormwater management program. These communities within metropolitan districts must take measures to reduce rainwater from coming into contact with pollutants. Green roofs filter, absorb and detain rainwater, reducing the amount being discharged into the municipal stormwater system and thus reducing the burden on the local community.
I look forward to hearing more about these topics from our witnesses today.
I am also interested, Madam Chairman, in learning more about some of the concerns with current green building practices and what we can do to address those concerns in any legislation we may consider in this committee.
One concern I have heard expressed repeatedly by a number of groups and industries is that of establishing a mandate or endorsement for any one particular green building rating system. To date, numerous state and local governments have put in place various mandatory measures that call for the adoption of LEED standards and there is legislation before this committee that specifically refers to LEED. The LEED system, however, was intended to be a voluntary program; additionally, there are other green buildings rating systems on the market. Promoting one system over others in legislation essentially amounts to brand endorsement by law.
At this point, I would like to submit for the record letters from the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and the North American Coalition on Green Building stating their concern with referencing only the LEED system in green building legislation.
I am pleased to welcome Mr. Ray Tonjes from the National Association of Home Builders today. I look forward to hearing your perspective on this matter, in addition to learning about your involvement in green building programs. I also look forward to hearing from Mr. Ward Hubbell, president of the Green Building Initiative, about the Green Globes rating system and what your organization is doing.
We should pursue the goals of energy and resource conservation. During our consideration of green building legislation, however, we need to bear certain questions in mind.
It’s my understanding that buildings built “green” don’t always perform as intended – what research still needs to be done on the actual benefits of green buildings? What standards and benchmarks are currently being used for various aspects of building design and certification? What mandates might we be creating, and what would be the consequences of those mandates? While many of the goals of green building are worthwhile, I am concerned about the possibility of legislating mandates – intended or otherwise – that would be costly and burdensome to our taxpayers and communities.
I look forward to our panel addressing these issues today. Thank you, Madam Chairman.