Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Federal Spending and Green Buildings

According to the Department of Energy (DOE), in 2008,
buildings in the United States consumed almost 40 percent of the
nation's energy and emitted about 39 percent of its carbon dioxide, a
greenhouse gas recognized as a major contributor to climate change.
[Footnote 1] In addition, DOE reports that the approximately 30
million to 35 million tons of construction, renovation, and demolition
waste produced annually in the nation accounts for about 24 percent of
municipal solid waste, although as much as 95 percent of this waste
could be recycled. Furthermore, according to the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA), exposure to indoor air pollutants, such as
radon and formaldehyde, can lead to harmful health effects, from
headaches to respiratory diseases.

More recently, the federal government has also focused on promoting
green building practices in the nonfederal sector. For example, the
Energy Policy Act of 2005 provided tax credits for home improvements
that increase energy efficiency and tax deductions for commercial
buildings that meet specific efficiency standards; the Energy
Independence and Security Act of 2007 authorized $1.52 billion over 10
years, starting in fiscal year 2008, for DOE's efforts to promote
commercial green building in partnership with other federal, as well
as nonfederal, entities; and the American Recovery and Reinvestment
Act of 2009 provided at least $13 billion to foster
green building in the nonfederal sector through various agency
initiatives, such as DOE's Weatherization Assistance Program--which is
designed to make long-term energy-efficiency improvements to the homes
of low-income families. Weatherization includes
installing high-efficiency boilers, insulation, and energy-efficient

According to our analysis, over two-thirds (64) of the 94 initiatives
foster green building directly--that is, one of their primary purposes
is to foster green building through one or more green building
elements. For example, EPA's Indoor Environments Program is intended
to provide resources to promote and protect occupants' health while
saving energy and money.

According to our analysis of questionnaire responses, agencies are
implementing many of the initiatives we identified because they are
required to by statute.

To help assess the results of investments in individual federal
initiatives to foster green building in the nonfederal sector, as well
as their combined results, we recommend that the Secretaries of Energy
and of Housing and Urban Development work with the Administrator of
EPA in leading an effort with other agencies that are implementing
green building initiatives to collaborate on identifying performance
information, such as shared goals and common performance measures, for
green building initiatives for the nonfederal sector. This effort
should include, if necessary, an exploration of the need for
additional legislative or executive authority, such as the authority
to establish a coordinating entity (e.g., an interagency working

Works Referenced:

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