On June 8, legislation (S708-CSRO-20) was heard in the North Carolina state Senate Commerce Committee that would (on average) increase the energy efficiency of residential and commercial buildings by 15% and 30%, respectively. This bill passed, and on the morning of June 24, Governor Perdue signed it. This means the bill will become law on January 1, 2012. There is a built-in three-month transition period, so the law really doesn’t become mandatory until March 1, 2012.
The adoption of this legislation was no small task. As initially reported by the Green Builder Coalition in April, Governor Perdue was in a very difficult position. Nevertheless, a compromise was reached and a progressive policy has been enacted.
The real winners in this saga are both the building owner and the environment. It is estimated that under the new law, a homeowner with a 1,800 square-foot home will realize an estimated $235 in annual energy savings. Assuming static energy costs, that represents a 6.4-year payback period. After that, it’s money (and energy) that would have been wasted for the remainder of the structure's existence.
It is hoped that the initiative taken by Governor Perdue and the state of North Carolina will spread to other states, as they look for ways to stimulate their economies, job markets, and subsequently their tax revenues.
It should be noted, however, that the governor had the unenviable task of persuading a state legislature ruled by the opposite party. She also got a diverse group of organizations to come to the table and compromise on this hotly debated issue. The groups listed below, some of whom had been working on this issue for at least nine months, should also get some of the spotlight for their efforts:
• North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association
• Environment North Carolina
• North Carolina Sierra Club
• Environmental Defense Fund
• North Carolina Homebuilders Association
• Appalachian State University
• North Carolina League of Conservation Voters
• Triangle Chapter of the USGBC
• City of Raleigh
Mike Collignon is the president of the Green Builder Coalition