Good news for green building coming out of the State House. According to the press release:
The Green Buildings Act (2009-S 0232B), passed by the General Assembly in October and signed into law by Governor Carcieri this week, requires that all new major public facility projects and major building renovations in Rhode Island, including schools, be designed and constructed in conformance with high performance green building standards.
The new law applies to new construction of more than 5,000 square feet and renovation of spaces greater than 10,000 square feet if such projects receive any funding from the state. The law takes effect immediately but will apply only to buildings entering the design phase after .
Under the law, must conform to the internationally recognized (LEED) rating system or an equivalent high-performance green building standard, including the Northeast Collaborative for High-Performance Schools Protocol.
What makes this legislation even better is that it was written by our own State Senator Louis DiPalma (District 12 // Little Compton, Middletown, Newport, Tiverton). Thank you, Senator DiPalma!
Naysayers aside, this is a bold move that is long overdue. It focuses on the long-term, not the knee-jerk short-term. Analysis of green building ROI (return on investment) has shown that the impact on upfront building costs continues to be minimal if integrated at the start of a project. The small volume of municipal green building projects is probably due more to a lack of fact-based knowledge about the how-to's and ROI than a blatant aversion to project costs. With the launch of the Rhode Island chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council, this information void should begin to shrink.
This legislation is timely for another reason: Our own efforts to build a new library in Tiverton are focused on providing the most long-term value for the town through the integration of energy-efficient and other green building elements into the design. It's not just about the lowest bid anymore. It's about responsibility -- to the community, to the environment, AND to the bottom line. Green building achieves all three.
Two final comments: Too bad we didn't have this legislation when our elementary schools were going through the re-hab process; AND when will this type of legislation make its way down to the residential level through zoning and building codes?