News from Harrisburg . . . Our State Rep. Paul Drucker’s House Bill 689 to provide incentives for school districts to construct cleaner and more efficient schools has passed the House with a vote of 106-85. My understanding is the roots of this legislative bill began in 2008 under former State Rep. Carole Rubley’s direction. With some 2009/10 updating, Rep. Drucker was able to successfully move the bill through the House’s voting process. The following is excerpted from Pennsylvania State House press release:
Current law requires school boards to first receive voter approval before commencing any major construction plans over a certain dollar amount, including new buildings or significant renovations. That law, he said, inadvertently impedes the construction of environmentally friendly schools due to the high up-front cost, which may push the cost of green construction over the limit. House Bill 689 would exclude any costs incurred by a school district in the construction of a school building that meets the Green Building Standard from the calculation of construction costs when determining if voter approval is needed. At a minimum, Green Building Standard projects must include performance-based credits that will improve a building’s energy performance and promote the use of environmentally friendly building materials and technologies. Documentation to support the energy efficiency of the project is required. Green Building Standard projects must also employ third-party, post-construction review and have a performance record of certified green buildings in the United States.
The bill includes a requirement that Green Building Standard costs be submitted to the Pennsylvania Department of Education at the same time that construction cost estimates are submitted for approval. Drucker said that inclusion of Green Building Standard costs with construction costs would allow districts to demonstrate any long-term savings produced by investment in green building technologies.
“Over time, green buildings save money by reducing energy costs and provide a healthier internal air quality for our children,” Drucker said. “My bill would allow school districts to realize these long-term benefits without being burdened by the up-front costs associated with green building.”
Rep. Drucker’s bill will now go to the Senate for consideration and here’s hoping for a successful outcome!