Just as "all politics is local," a statement famously attributed to former speaker of the US House of Representatives Tip O'Neill, all successful sus-tainability efforts have their roots in local action. With more than 16 states and 60 cities (as of early 2007) offering local initiatives to promote green buildings, there is ample precedent for you to engage your local school board, city council, country board or commission and even state representatives in this effort. Drill down into each green building success story and you will find just a few local people, some in government, some in business and some plain citizens, whose energy and foresight have made the difference. Some of the initiatives already enacted, on which you can model your efforts, include:
• At the local level, secure a commitment from a school district, city or county to build all future buildings and schools to at least the LEED Silver level; some communities have committed to build LEED Gold projects (the earliest on record was the City of Vancouver, British Columbia); this may take some doing because you're going to hear the old familiar refrain "it costs too much," and you'll have to convince people otherwise by using the examples in this book; among the North American cities making this commitment are Seattle, Sacramento, Portland (OR), Tucson, San Francisco, Calgary and Madison (WI).
• Some cities are taking the next step after greening their own operations, requiring larger private-sector projects to meet LEED certified or Silver-level certifications within the next few years. (Large cities such as Boston and Washington, DC, have done this, and more cities will be requiring such achievements or incorporating LEED requirements and Architecture 2030 milestones into the building code in the next few years.)
• If you have a municipal electric utility or public utility district, convince it to offer incentives for energy conservation and solar energy systems; often the large cash flows of a utility permit it to offer incentives that will, over time, allow it to offset expensive purchases of additional generating capacity in the future; in Texas, Austin Energy, a municipal utility, has been promoting green homes since the early 1990s
and has one of the most successful green home rating systems in the country.
• Convince your mayor or city council to sign onto the US Mayors' Climate Protection Agreement, which commits cities to becoming carbon neutral within the next decade, or sooner, in their own opera-tions;4 at the global level, former US President Clinton's Climate Change Initiative is engaging the 40 largest cities in the world to become carbon neutral over the next 20 to 30 years.5 (Already, London has signed on to this initiative.) In Denver, Mayor John Hickenlooper has been aggressively promoting the Greenprint Denver plan for sustainable development,6 and in Chicago, Mayor Richard Daley has vowed to make Chicago the "greenest city" in North America by promoting green buildings, green roofs and street tree plantings.
• Convince your city council or country commission/board to offer incentives to private sector projects that commit to building green; successful incentives include faster processing of building permits and increased "density bonuses" for high-rise offices, apartments and condominium developments; if you know a state legislator, talk to them about sponsoring state initiatives to promote green buildings and renewable energy; successful initiatives have included personal and/or corporate income tax credits (Oregon and New York, along with 23 other states); property tax abatements for LEED Silver or better certifications (Nevada); sales tax elimination on solar systems (Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Massachusetts, Maryland and 12 other states); and rebates for purchase of solar systems (California, Arizona, Colorado and 30 other states).7 • Have the governor or state legislature require the state utility commission to have all investor-owned utilities collect a tax on utility bills and offer "public purpose" funds for investments in conservation, onsite power and renewable energy; in 2007 the California Public Utilities Commission adopted an incentive payment system in the form of a consumer rebate, to encourage people to install photovoltaic systems on their roofs; the goal is "a million solar roofs" within ten years.8
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