Beshear Administration leads the nation in public building energy efficiency standards

Governor orders immediate night, weekend energy “setbacks” for lighting, heating, and air in state facilities

FRANKFORT, KY – February 19, 2009 – (RealEstateRama) — Gov. Steve Beshear today announced a couple of energy efficiency initiatives that will further establish Kentucky as a national leader in the “greening” of public buildings.

The first initiative will require new public facilities or renovations to existing facilities built with 50 percent or more state funds to be designed according to nationally recognized energy efficiency standards outlined in a rating system called Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).

The second initiative will require certain existing state-owned facilities to “set back” their use of lighting, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems on nights and weekends to reduce energy consumption. It’s estimated that the program could immediately save approximately $2 million a year by reducing energy use by 24 percent.

The “building setback” plan immediately affects 3.8 million square feet of facilities operated by the Finance and Administration Cabinet, including the Capitol, Capitol Annex, Governor’s Mansion, Frankfort Convention Center and Capital Plaza Tower. Essential and emergency operations will be excluded, and government agencies can receive waivers during periods of essential government service, such as late-night sessions of the General Assembly.

By encouraging other public agencies and departments that receive taxpayer funds, such as schools, universities and local governments, to work toward adopting a similar “building setback” plan, the governor said the savings could surpass $100 million a year.

Today’s moves are timely as the greening of public facilities plays a central role in the recently passed federal stimulus package, which relies in part on creating energy-related jobs to stimulate the economy.

“These initiatives will save taxpayer money and promote a clean environment,” Gov. Beshear said. “But they will also position us to implement President Obama’s mission of improving energy efficiency in the nation’s building stock and thereby creating millions of new ‘green-collar’ jobs.

“I’m excited that Kentucky continues to lead the nation in terms of progressive action on energy reduction and savings,” Gov. Beshear said.

Reducing energy use in government buildings is a critical element of “Intelligent Energy Choices for Kentucky’s Future,” the state’s first-ever comprehensive strategy for energy independence.  In that plan, Gov. Beshear set ambitious, aggressive goals for reduction of energy use in public facilities.  By 2015, state facilities will reduce their energy consumption by 15 percent and 25 percent by 2025.  By 2025, public facilities will reduce their carbon footprint by 50 percent.

“These initiatives demonstrate how energy, environment and economy are linked in a significant way,” said Energy and Environment Cabinet Sec. Len Peters. “By reducing our energy consumption and by operating more sustainable buildings, we reduce our impact on the environment and we realize important economic benefits.”

The regulations for new construction issued today by Finance and Administration Cabinet Sec. Jonathan Miller are based in part on House Bill 2, which was sponsored by Rep. Rocky Adkins and passed by the General Assembly in 2008, and also employ LEED standards. Those standards specify that:

  • All new construction and major renovation building projects of $25 million or more shall be designed and built to achieve LEED Silver level or higher.
  • All such building projects between $5 million and $25 million shall be designed and built to achieve LEED Certified level or higher, and also achieve a minimum of seven points under the Energy and Atmosphere Credit 1, Optimize Energy Performance standards.
  • All projects between $600,000 and $5 million shall be designed and built using the LEED Rating System as guidance.
  • In the cases where obtaining LEED certification is deemed to pose an extraordinary hardship, the Secretary of the Finance and Administration Cabinet may grant a waiver.

HB 2 was recently recognized as a “Megatrend” national model by the Council of State Governments. The standards put in place by Sec. Miller put Kentucky in an elite group of 12 states with laws requiring that some or all design, construction and operation of state buildings earn LEED Silver or other comparable standard.

The regulations, which will make Kentucky’s public facilities among the greenest and most energy efficient in the country, were developed following six months of work by the High Performance Buildings Advisory Committee (HPBAC), which is chaired by Sec. Miller and is composed of environmentalists, architects, engineers and builders from across Kentucky.

“These new regulations will help us reach the governor’s ambitious goals for reducing energy use and carbon emissions in state facilities, and place us as one of the most progressive states in the nation in addressing the global climate change crisis,” said Sec. Miller. “However, this is not an end product, but the beginning of our journey. As new funds become available and as new technologies make energy efficiency more affordable, we will strengthen these standards even more.”

Sec. Miller said he will soon reconvene the HPBAC following the recent passage of an economic stimulus plan by Congress to determine if funds made available to Kentucky will enable the state to use even stricter, more environmentally friendly standards. The committee will reconvene annually to determine how the development of future energy-efficiency technologies can promote stronger standards and greater savings.

“Reducing energy consumption is an integral part of Kentucky’s energy policy and I am pleased with Gov. Beshear’s implementation of House Bill 2’s energy efficiency standards,” said House Majority Floor Leader and HB 2 sponsor Rep. Adkins. “I believe that Kentucky can lead the nation in energy production and conservation practices, and today’s announcement puts us one step closer to that goal.”

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Download audio of Gov. Beshear from the press conference. (3.36MB MP3)

Contact Information:

Jay Blanton
Jill Midkiff
502-564-2611

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