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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Bill may require state to lower energy usage

    PHOENIX – Energy efficiency on the UA campus has been a priority for years, but further regulations from the Legislature would have to be accompanied by increased funding, a UA official said.

    A bill introduced by lawmakers including Sen. Paula Aboud, D-Tucson, would require state agencies, universities, community colleges and schools to lower their buildings’ energy use by 20 percent per square foot by 2015.

    “”The idea of the bill is to put extra money upfront into construction and you save on utility bills for the life of the building,”” Aboud said. “”It’s a smart move all the way around.””

    House Bill 2497 has to pass the House committees of Higher Education and Government before going to the floor for a full vote.

    It extends another law enacted in 2003, which requires a 10 percent savings increase by 2008 and a 15 percent increase by 2011.

    Universities play an important role in showing the rest of the state that this move can be beneficial, said Rep. Lucy Mason, R-Prescott, a sponsor of the bill.

    UA officials have been working for years to slash energy consumption on campus and are generally willing to work with lawmakers on the issue, said Christopher Kopach, associate director of Facilities Management at the UA.

    But building renewal money from the Legislature is needed to tackle more conservation projects, he added.

    Energy-saving measures that have been addressed include the use of reclaimed water for cooling and irrigation, energy-saving light bulbs and individual control for heating and cooling in buildings.

    “”Our facility department is all for energy efficiency,”” Kopach said. “”Let’s do it hand in hand with the proper funding.””

    Kopach said he also is concerned with the bill requiring the university to save energy in addition to the changes that already have been implemented.

    “”We’re hitting the point where we are extremely efficient in our buildings,”” he said.

    Green building in general has become more popular with several states in the last few years, led by California adopting similar proposals, said Mark Wilhelm, principal of Green Ideas, a Phoenix-based environmental building consulting firm.

    The money that is being invested for building construction or renovation pays back in the long run, especially in light of soaring utility costs, Wilhelm said.

    “”It can be done, and I agree it needs to be driven by the government,”” he commented on the bill. “”It puts the bar a little higher, forces the design team to just get a little more creative.””

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