A bill proposed in the Assembly that would require all new public building additions in Wisconsin to meet the requirements of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards will have its public hearing today.
State Rep. Louis Molepske, D-Stevens Point, proposed the bill, which would require all public buildings greater than 100,000 square feet to achieve a LEED silver certification.
LEED is an outside party evaluation of buildings’ environmental standards. Air quality, water efficiency and material resource usage are all taken into account in the process.
“With the new standards set, the taxpayers will be able to see the direct benefits of the new buildings,” Molepske said. “We want to promote reusability for buildings new and old.”
The Renschler Company — which has advocated for higher efficiency buildings for the last two years — said the construction company would love the bill to be passed, however, does not see it happening, Director of Sustainable Design Eric Truelove said.
He says his proposal for higher efficiency extends from past attempts to achieve higher LEED standards, such as in 2006 when the state ordered new buildings to be 30 percent more energy efficient.
“To have every job be LEED certified would be great for our business, but I don’t think it is very realistic,” Truelove said.
Truelove said building developers would argue against the bill. He added it would be impossible to force immediate LEED certification of new projects. Still, he said he remains hopeful developers will voluntarily make their projects LEED certified.
The difference between LEED certified buildings versus those that are not is the overall efficiency and sustainability, Truelove said.
“Typically, an LEED certified building will have 30 percent more efficient water and material usage, while having superior air quality,” Truelove added.
Although Truelove said he was somewhat skeptical the proposed bill would pass, WE Conserve — an initiative to make the University of Wisconsin campus more energy efficient — Director Faramarz Vakili said UW has quite a few LEED certified buildings already underway.
Vakili said the LEED standards have been around for a long time, and there are many buildings being worked on currently on campus that will meet those standards.
“In order to meet the LEED standards the contractors will need to systematically think through their design and work to earn points towards their inspection,” Vakili said.
The building projects in progress are expected to have a more efficient design in their construction. With the LEED standards in mind, designers are working to keep the certification level as high as possible through the end of construction.
Vakili said the buildings not only have to meet strict structural requirements, but also have to meet high levels of efficiency. By choosing different materials and structural ideas, the builders can gain more points toward LEED certification.
“The points will add up eventually, and the more points there are the higher the level of certification there will be,” Vakili said.