A bill that would have applied green building standards to public projects died Wednesday when Gov. Jim Doyle vetoed the proposal.
State Rep. Louis Molepske Jr., D-Stevens Point, chided members of Doyle’s administration for not raising concerns about the bill while the Legislature was in session this year. Molepske was an author of the bill.
“Unfortunately, what seemed to have happened in this case was the bureaucracy won,” Molepske said, “and it was bureaucracy who failed to come to the table who sank the ship here.”
In a veto letter sent to lawmakers, Doyle called the bill ‘unworkable.’ The veto message focused on a requirement in the bill that, by 2015, the state achieve U.S. Green Building Council standards for 15 percent of the state’s total building space, either owned or leased.
A requirement to dedicate all building program money toward the 15 percent goal would have crippled the state’s building program, according to the veto message.
Although the bill had a laudable goal of promoting green building, it could have frozen spending on University of Wisconsin System projects, said David Giroux, executive director of communications and external relations for the UW System. Whether that was the intention or not, he said, the bill could have been misinterpreted.
“These roadblocks could be cast in concrete,” he said, “and could be in place indefinitely.”
Giroux said he does not know when the UW System first raised its concerns about the bill, but he said UW officials had very little time to review the bill.
The same handcuffs could have applied to the state Department of Administration, said Jim Boullion, director of government affairs for the Associated General Contractors of Wisconsin. Mandating the agency spend large amounts of money on energy efficiency projects would have prevented DOA from financing repairs on buildings that were not energy related.
Boullion said the discussion on getting green building legislation needs to continue, but the legislation must be something that’s agreed upon by everyone.
Still, Molepske said, Doyle’s veto represents a missed opportunity.
“The state needed to lead by example,” Molepske said. “Instead of mandating it on private people, it had to go first.”
Molepske said earlier his intention with the legislation was to force the state to identify older buildings that use a lot of power and create a schedule to update them. After Wednesday’s veto, he said he is willing to change the bill’s language to make that clear and will bring the bill back to the Legislature.
The bill, which passed through the state Senate and Assembly, would have required public building additions, renovations and new construction of at least 10,000 square feet be built to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design silver standards. The bill would have affected state, municipal and school district projects.
The veto places the state in a position in which it cannot promote green building while also shedding requirements for its own projects, said Shahla Werner, director of the Sierra Clubís John Muir Chapter.
Vetoing the bill with the argument that it is unworkable on some state renovation projects sends the wrong message to private sector developers, she said.
“I understand that there’s the real world that we all live in,” Werner said. “But on the other hand, this really would have made a lot of sense without a lot of payback time.”