“No” to a Green Federal Building?
January 31, 2010
There has been so little money from the Federal stimulus package devoted to clean energy that many of us are losing hope that the Obama administration will do anything to move this critical agenda along. It doesn’t help when we learn that “the party of no” has found a way to block even modest steps to build green buildings for the Federal Government.
Today’s New York Times reports that John McCain and Tom Coburn, Senators from Arizona and Oklahoma, described an innovative proposed building in Portland, Oregon as the second worst stimulus-financed project on the G.S.A.’s current list. Though not much to look at, James Cutler’s 18-story Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building will be one of the most energy efficient high-rise structures in the U.S. if it ever gets built. It will have a giant “green wall” of plants on an 18-story trellis, solar cells on the roof, a rainwater retention system, high-efficiency lighting fixtures, and many other recommended technologies for the next generation of office buildings. It even avoids the use of costly steel structure, using concrete instead.
Though McCain is not a climate-change naysayer, and is from a state that will need solar and wind power in the near future, he has lined up with his colleagues to stop needed investment in clean energy projects. Coburn, for his part, has led the supercilious “scientific” arguments against climate-change for years. What seems clear is that even sensible, non-partisan issues like energy efficient Federal facilities development has become a “no-go” issue for the GOP.
Now that China has blasted past the U.S. in the clean energy development race, a Sputnik moment if there ever was one, how will our government respond? Not with a bang but with a shrug, it seems.