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Thursday, June 10, 2010 10:04 pm

Gas guzzlers

How much energy do state buildings use?

In an effort to adopt more comprehensive green energy standards, new legislation will evaluate the energy performance of state-owned buildings, Gov. Pat Quinn announced as he signed the bill into law May 22.

“Illinois is committed to being a leader in the green movement,” Quinn says. “This bill is the first step in creating standards for energy efficiency at existing state buildings and further addresses the state’s green goals.”

The law commissions an evaluation of at least 10 buildings, which will be used as case studies for measuring, reporting and comparing energy consumption. The study will be conducted by the Illinois Energy Efficiency Committee, which consists of representatives from the Departments of Central Management Services, Commerce and Economic Opportunity and the Capital Development Board.

The committee will assess how energy use from Illinois buildings compares with that of other states, using the information gathered to target upgrades that will improve efficiency.

Quinn signed the legislation during the fourth annual Green Festival in Chicago. Studies like this pave the way for a green energy future in Illinois, he says, which leads to job creation and expansion.

“We’ve got to make sure that we are doing things in a green, sustainable way,” Quinn says. “It’s the key to prosperity in our state and our whole country. This is a good way to have jobs that don’t leave our country; they stay right here in our own backyard. These jobs will focus on energy efficiency or renewable energy or water conservation.”

The legislation was sponsored by Sen. Michael Bond, D-Grayslake, and Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Collinsville.

“We are impressed with all of the green projects in Chicago and in this region,” says Denise Hamler, Green Festival and Green America director. “From the green roofs to sustainable agriculture to green jobs. I am proud of this city and this state for leading the country in going green, for healthier, livable communities for all.”

The study is part of an ongoing green initiative sponsored by Quinn. In July 2009, he signed legislation requiring certain green building practices for the construction of all new state-funded buildings and for major renovations of existing state-owned facilities.

“This requires us to measure the energy performance in major state buildings, so we can figure out how to reduce energy use and become more efficient,” he says. “We have to be efficient and use less energy. We want to use all American energy wherever we can. We want to do it in the right way, and our state’s got to be a leader.”

It’s currently unknown which buildings will be studied, says David Blanchette, communications manager of the Capital Development Board. The group will look for a diverse group of buildings across the state, he says.

Quinn also supported legislation requiring every state-owned building to use only environmentally-friendly cleaning supplies.

“We want Chicago to be the greenest city in America and we want Illinois to be the greenest state,” he says.

A report is due to the General Assembly by July 1, 2012.

Contact Diane Ivey at divey@illinoistimes.com.

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