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Are ‘Green Buildings’ Saving Green in WA?

a green school

So much has been said, published, broadcast and blathered about how going green is not only good for the enviornment, but it will save us citizens lots of money. Not so fast, says a comprehensive report from the Washington Policy Center.

A recent audit report by the State’s Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee, or JLARC, shows most ‘green’ or enviornmentally friendly schools are A) not that energy efficient, and B) costing tens of thousands of dollars more to upgrade and operate.   The Washington Policy Center studied last week’s JLARC report on 14 different green schools scattered around the state and found the schools cost 2.6 percent more to build (at an additional cost of 10 million dollars to taxpayers) as opposed to schools built before Gov. Gregoire’s new ‘green’ policies went into effect.  Many of the new green schools did not even meet Energy Star requirements unlike their older counterparts.  In addition, the WPC found most of the 14 schools studied spent far more money on meeting other non enviornmental requirements of the energy bill than what was spent on making them energy efficient.  Lincoln Heights Elementary in Spokane had over 455k in improvements, but only 18 percent of that was spent on steps to lower it’s energy bills.  Gregoire’s plan was supposed to make schools more energy efficient, lowering heating and cooling and operating costs, thereby saving taxpayer money.  It hasn’t worked out that way.   The first steps of Gregoire’s “green schools” laws were passed in 2005; since then the state has yet to see any appreciable savings. Part of the problem is the state’s thinking that spending an extra dollar now on ‘green’ buildings will result in more than a dollar being saved in the future. But legislators did not take into account rising energy prices.  At best estimates, WA state will not begin to see true energy savings from these green schools for at least another 27 years, according to the WPC.

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