At the risk of piling on, I think it’s worth making a pitch for better energy efficiency provisions in the building code. It’s a proven method for boosting the economy that also happens to have some nice environmental benefits.
For years, Washington Governor Gregoire has been a leader on energy efficiency. In fact, one year ago she called on the State Building Code Council to achieve a 30 percent reduction in energy use. The Council instead adopted more modest revisions. But now, surprisingly, the governor intends to delay even the more modest upgrades. That’s a shame.
But what’s more perplexing is the “jobs versus environment” frame shaping the conversation. It simply doesn’t make much sense.
It’s true that energy efficiency has some groovy-green benefits, but it’s fundamentally just about being economical. As our friends at Climate Solutions have pointed out:
Efficient codes are cost effective, as shown by research by the Cascadia Green Building Council and even the Building Code Council itself. Moreover, energy efficient construction methods will create thousands of new jobs across Washington in the coming years, according to research by the Clean Energy Leadership Council, the Prosperity Partnership, Washington’s Department of Ecology and Department of Commerce, and the Governor’s own energy initiative, among numerous others.
In other words, delaying cost-effective energy efficiency isn’t just a case of case of putting the economy ahead of the environment — it’s a case of putting a misunderstanding about the economy ahead of the economy.
And, no surprise, on Friday the State Building Code Council acceded to the Governor’s request and adopted emergency rule making to delay the effective date of the code. Amazingly, two minutes of public comment on why it isn’t jobs vs the economy wasn’t enough to sway the council. (And no discussion of exactly what the emergency was since the economy was even worse in January – when the Governor told legislators she was pleased with new the code and that it will best serve the citizens of the state and that it will save money, create good local jobs . . . and speed economic recovery.)Props to the City of Seattle, some utility interests and the sheet metal workers (in addition to the usual suspects) for showing the flag and urging the Council to stick to their original decision – let the code become effective on July 1.