Letters to the Editor

Don't chop mandate for energy efficiency

At a time when Congress is looking to cut federal spending, the Senate is about to vote on an amendment that would cost taxpayers more in wasted energy.

Republican Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., with the support of oil and gas producers, will soon offer an amendment to an energy-efficiency bill that would eviscerate a tool that government agencies are using to make their buildings more energy efficient, reduce costs and promote innovation in building design. Section 433 of the Energy Independence and Security Act, signed into law in 2007 by President George W. Bush, sets targets for cutting fossil fuel use in new and renovated federal buildings by 2030. But Hoeven's amendment would repeal that rule.

That is bad public policy. Here's why:

Data from the U.S.

Energy Information Administration indicate that buildings use more energy than any industry sector -- 48 percent of the total. As the owner and operator of millions of square feet of buildings -- from courthouses to hospitals -- the federal government spends $6 billion a year in taxpayer dollars just to power these facilities. Shouldn't it make sure the buildings use as little energy as possible?

The private sector increasingly recognizes the importance of innovative, energy-efficient design. Large corporations are asking architects to design their properties to use less energy. They know it's good for the bottom line.

As architects, we are prepared to lead the design of a more sustainable future. But we need the federal government to lead by example.

Jane Frederick

South Atlantic director

American Institute of Architects