For Immediate Release - March 12, 2008


Task Force will chart course toward sharp reductions in energy use, emissions in state and private buildings by 2030

BOSTON - Wednesday, March 12, 2008 - Governor Deval Patrick today issued a challenge to architects, design, and construction professionals to help the state and private sector construct buildings that are greener than ever before.

Speaking before the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association's (NESEA) "Building Energy 08" conference at Seaport World trade Center in Boston, Governor Patrick announced that he has asked Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles to form a task force of industry professionals that would advise the state on raising "green building" standards in a way that would lead public and private construction toward a goal of Zero Net Energy buildings - commercial and residential structures that meet most of their energy needs by efficiency and on-site renewable energy - by 2030.

"Less energy usage isn't enough," said Governor Patrick. "We have to set our sights not higher, but lower - all the way to zero."

In addition to the numerous environmental benefits it provides, the clean energy sector is a key component of the Governor's economic agenda.

Governor Patrick called on the task force to report, by the time of NESEA's annual conference next year, with recommendations that would:

o allow the state to issue specifications for the first state-owned Zero Net Energy building by January 1, 2010;
o specify an interim standard for state=owned construction that is significantly more stringent than the current Mass. LEED Plus benchmark; and,
o for private development, point the way toward broad marketability of Zero Net Energy residential and commercial buildings by 2020, and universal adoption of Zero Net Energy buildings for new construction by 2030.

Green Buildings, such as those certified under the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program, reduce energy and water use through super-insulation, sustainable building materials, high-efficiency lighting and appliances, on-site renewable energy, and other measures. In recent years, Green Building specialists, trade associations, and the U.S. Department of Energy have started to promote as a goal Zero Net Energy construction - buildings that reduce energy use; generate energy through solar panels, geothermal heat pumps, and other renewable sources; and otherwise offset fossil fuel energy so that, on net, they do not increase energy demand or greenhouse gas emissions at all.

The task force called for by Governor Patrick would extend that challenge to Massachusetts design and construction professionals, with the goal of making Zero Net Energy buildings the construction industry standard in Massachusetts, for both public and private construction, and boosting jobs in the Bay State's burgeoning clean energy and green building sectors.

"With integrated planning and design, energy-efficient buildings do not have to cost more to build than the status quo," said Deborah Rivers, senior associate at Perkins+Will, a leading sustainable design firm based in Boston. "In fact, green buildings save money over time."

In his address, Governor Patrick also described how his Leading By Example Executive Order - which he signed April 18, 2007 - has made Green Building a central element of facilities construction and management for state government. That Executive Order required state agencies to achieve:

o 20 percent less energy use by 2012, 35 percent by 2020
o 25 percent lower greenhouse gas emissions by 2012, 40 percent by 2020, 80 percent by 2050
o 15 percent of energy use from renewables by 2012, 30 percent by 2020

The Executive Order also put the Governor's authority behind the state's Green Building standard - Mass. LEED Plus. All new state buildings larger than 20,000 square feet are required to achieve LEED certification and have 20 percent better energy performance than current standards.

As a result of the Executive Order, state agencies and institutions of higher education that have been pacesetters are going further to save energy and taxpayer dollars:

o Mass. Maritime Academy, which put up the first large-scale wind turbine on state property, has now installed a 84 kW solar PV system on its newest dormitory, and is hard at work on additional renewable energy projects for the future.
o UMass-Amherst has reduced its energy usage by 18 million kW-hours through efficiency efforts, resulting in annual savings of 33,000 tons in carbon dioxide emissions and $5 million in energy bills. Now, the state university's flagship campus is replacing its coal-fired power plant with a super-efficient 10 MW natural gas cogeneration system, which will heat and power virtually the entire campus.

And the mandate of clean energy has spread throughout state government:

o Dept. of Youth Services recently completed a girls facility that is the first secure treatment center built to LEED standards, and should receive certification shortly.

o Dept. of Mental Health, in planning its $250 million Worcester Psychiatric Hospital, is shooting for LEED Gold.

o Dept. of Housing and Community Development is utilizing its six LEED-certified architects and engineers to help local housing authorities reduce energy use (40 percent of total operating expenses - $80 million last year) and model Green Building practices, including "green roofs" in design for a Chelsea public housing development, geothermal heat pumps being explored for Northampton, and individual heat-and-power cogeneration systems replacing furnaces in townhouse-style public housing for families in Plymouth.

At the same time, policies and initiatives adopted by state government are promoting Green Building practices in the private sector. Including greenhouse gas emissions reduction and mitigation in the state environmental review process has led to the nation's first voluntary, but legally enforceable, greenhouse gas emissions cap in a real estate development - Harvard's Allston campus project, where the Science Center will meet a target of 50 percent lower greenhouse gas emissions than national standards - and full implementation of the policy will force developers to do analysis that will make their buildings greener.

"Under Governor Patrick's leadership, the Commonwealth has been walking the walk on Green Building," said Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Ian Bowles. "Now is the time to take super-efficient buildings to a new level. It will save money, curb greenhouse gases, and create jobs in Massachusetts's clean energy industry."

The Administration's recently announced $68 million, four-year solar rebate program - Commonwealth Solar - will make it easier and more cost-effective for commercial, industrial, and residential consumers to install solar photovoltaic energy. And the pending comprehensive energy reform legislation - which, under the leadership of House Speaker Sal DiMasi and Senate President Therese Murray, has passed both House and Senate, and is now in conference committee - promises to make Green Building a fact of Massachusetts life, as it promotes energy efficiency through the utility procurement process, drives the growth of renewable energy through long-term contracts, and ties the state's building code to the highest international standards for energy efficiency.

But Governor Patrick wants the task force he is calling for today to give him a blueprint for making energy saving, carbon neutral construction the wave of the future in Massachusetts.

"Consider this my challenge to the industry: Help us - as a state government, and a society - get to zero," said Governor Patrick.

"The only way this country is going to be effective at mitigating climate change is through strong leadership, particularly through local government initiatives that have a strong vision for our future," said Barbra Batshalom, executive director of the Green Roundtable, a Massachusetts based nonprofit organization specializing in Green Building. "A zero-energy goal for new buildings will drive local markets, create jobs, and is the only way we can ensure healthy, sustainable communities now and for future generations. I applaud the Governor's leadership on this critical issue and look forward to working with my colleagues in Massachusetts to meet the Governor's challenge."