Thank you, Madam Chairman, for holding this hearing. I am pleased to have the opportunity once again to discuss energy efficiency within our committee.
Using less to do more is a fundamental economic principle that American industry has practiced with great success. Its application has helped the United States rise in prosperity and, I believe, will be a key element of our economic recovery. Moreover, increased productivity in the form of energy efficiency and innovation– along with developing new domestic sources of energy and ensuring a diverse energy supply – are essential to strengthening our nation’s energy and financial security. For these reasons, it is important to pursue opportunities for energy efficiency and innovation in our public buildings.
While I was not a supporter of the Stimulus bill, it did contain some productive elements. For example, it provides an unprecedented opportunity for GSA to make investments in the existing stock of federal buildings. It is extremely important that GSA’s decisions make these buildings more energy efficient and that such improvements are cost-effective. It is also important that the choices GSA and other federal agencies make to “go green” deliver measurable performance results.
It’s my understanding that so-called “green” buildings don’t always perform as intended. This raises serious concerns for me, and it also raises fundamental questions: 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? How can the government make sure that we are spending money on the efforts that ensure we are meeting our energy goals and not creating unintended burdens on our taxpayers and communities?
I am concerned that GSA selected LEED as its only category of “green” building for new construction. I believe that the increased interest in green buildings and advances in technology in recent years have and are creating new building rating systems. These systems should be allowed to compete in the market and government agencies should be able to determine which system meets their performance requirements. I do not think that GSA should be in the business of selecting one system over another. Additionally, we need to practice careful oversight to ensure that the best rating systems are being used in government decisions.
I am pleased to have Dr. Harvey Bryan, Professor at the Arizona State University School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture with us today on behalf of the Green Building Initiative. He will share his expertise with us today and update us on what GBI has been doing since our last hearing. I am also looking forward to hearing from Acting Administrator Paul F. Prouty as well.
Thank you again Madam Chairman for this opportunity.