City of Anchorage takes big step backward in eliminating sustainable building ordinance
July 31, 2011
Guest editorial by Mark Masteller in the Anchorage Press: With little public discussion, the Anchorage Assembly, at the request of the Mayor’s office, recently took an abrupt about-face regarding the development of energy efficient, non-toxic city-owned buildings. This is an unfortunate turn, as these “green” buildings save taxpayer money, provide healthier indoor environments, save energy, promote use of regional and recycled materials, produce fewer greenhouse gases and promote local product development and innovation. In short, high performance buildings promote an economically and environmentally sustainable community while increasing our energy security.
It’s puzzling why Mayor Sullivan would want to eliminate the Sustainable Building Policy, when he has quite correctly and publicly noted the fragility of our Cook Inlet natural gas supplies, which supply us with both heat and electricity. Nationally, buildings use about 40 percent of our primary energy, and about 70 percent of our electricity. And energy experts will tell you that the cheapest-and fastest-way to save energy is by first pursuing energy conservation and efficiency measures. Increasing the efficiency of large buildings helps prolong our local gas supplies.
So what did the assembly do? In a 6-5 vote they eliminated the requirement that new city-owned buildings meet the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, building standard. Increasingly accepted around the world, LEED was developed by the U. S. Green Building Council and has become the norm for hundreds of municipalities and federal agencies. There are four LEED certification levels: certified, silver, gold and platinum. The MOA was requiring “certified,” and the plan was to go to “silver” in 2012. Instead, they’re going backward. Read more