Carbon Neutral in Paris. What about Madison?

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What a difference the pond makes.

The E.U. passed strict energy efficiency regulations last week, requiring all new buildings constructed in Europe after 2020 to be virtually carbon-neutral. The goal, according to Reuters, is to reduce the 36% of GHG emissions attributable to Europe’s building stock:

“With buildings accounting for 36 percent of the EU’s greenhouse gases, improving their energy efficiency is also crucial for meeting the EU’s climate change goals,” said Turmes.

Contrast this approach to a recent veto by Wisconsin’s governor of a bill aimed at making a percentage of public buildings green. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported:

The measure had directed all state building funds to be used for certifying at least 15% of total gross square footage of working space in state-owned and leased buildings to meet green building requirements.

The reason for the veto? In a letter, Governor Doyle stated that the requirement would:

[R]esult in all current maintenance projects being delayed indefinitely. In the future, the commitment of all these funds for this single purpose will also sharply curtail the state’s ability to build new buildings or maintain its existing facilities.

I find it difficult to reconcile these two regulatory actions. On the one hand, Europe has determined that it is not only feasible, but necessary to build its entire building stock to a near carbon neutral level, and Wisconsin has determined that it cannot even make 15% of its public buildings green. What will the competitiveness of Wisconsin — indeed, the entire United States — be if it is saddled with a portfolio of under-performing building stock contributing to greenhouse gas emissions.

Article by Shari Shapiro appearing courtesy Green Building Law Blog

Photo: Al Ianni

About Author

Shari Shapiro is a policy and communications consultant with Calliope Communications, which specializes in energy, environmental, and building code policy. Since 2007, she has published the Green Building Law Blog.

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