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Science and Technology Committee Field Hearing: "Options and Opportunities for Onsite Renewable Energy Integration"

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And, welcome to each of our witnesses. We appreciate your efforts to be here and participate in today's important hearing. I am also particularly pleased that my good friend and colleague, Russ Carnahan, is able to join me to chair today's hearing and kick off the festivities for the U.S. Green Building Council's annual International Conference and Expo.

As Russ just mentioned, we have the distinct honor of leading the most exciting Caucus in the House of Representatives. Known officially as the High Performance Building Caucus, we have hosted over fifty lunch briefings in the last two years on every subject important to the definition of a high performing building. So, today's hearing isn't just a twist in our usual caucus collaboration - it is another way to take our show on the road and raise awareness for the importance of high performance buildings.

No where is the concept of high performance buildings more important -- and more evident -- than right here in my own backyard. Chicago is home to many high performing building "firsts", like:

The Chicago Center for Green Technology, the first rehabilitated municipal buildingin the nation to achieve LEED Platinum status.

And, in 2007, the Exelon headquarters in Chase Tower became the largest office space to earn a LEED Platinum rating for Commercial Interiors.

Another great example - and one we will soon hear more about - is Bolingbrook High School, located in my suburban district. Bolingbrook High School is among the first of new construction LEED certified high schools in the nation.

So, what do these building project examples have in common -- and how is renewable energy integration important to them?

These building projects have been constructed with a comprehensive building efficiency program. Once in place, an efficiency program can help reduce energy demand and the need for new energy capacity over the life of the project.

Improved building efficiency begins with a coordinated design and construction plan to accommodate changes in technology and building function. As the demand for electricity - and cost of materials - rise over the next two decades, the building projects I previously mentioned have the foundation in place to utilize existing renewable technologies, or incorporate technologies that have yet to be deployed. Such an advantage can save homeowners, building managers, or school districts precious time and resources.

Existing applications of renewable technologies in LEED certified buildings are already paying off. Some case studies using solar panels or geothermal heating systems report a fifteen to twenty percent savings in energy costs, with payback occurring two to five years earlier than anticipated.

Long-term renewable technology options, however, hold great promise but need more work. Energy storage solutions, such as solar thermal heating or, on and off-site stationary batteries can offer significant savings for both the end-users and generators of electricity. These technologies have been demonstrated in limited amounts and need more development before deployed on any broad scale.

While successful, or promising, some renewable technologies still encounter other challenges that prevent more widespread implementation. State laws or outdated local statues have not been updated to accommodate neighborhood planning or renewable energy site planning. In order to enjoy the fruits of renewable energy integration, we need to cultivate a culture of adoption for those technologies.

With that, I would like to thank you all for being here this morning. I look forward to your testimony and to working with you to advance renewable energy integration in buildings when Congress returns to energy issues next year.


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