Earlier this month President Obama outlined what he calls the “Better Buildings Initiative,” a series of proposals designed to improve the energy efficiency of commercial office and retail buildings, schools, universities, hospitals and government buildings by 20 percent by 2020.
The plan includes tax incentives for upgrades that would improve energy efficiency, increasing financing opportunities for commercial retrofits, grants to state and local governments that streamline regulations related to energy efficiency and providing more workforce training for energy auditing and building operations.
Buildings in the United States consume 40 percent of energy and emit 39 percent of CO2 emissions. Earning first place among carbon- emitting industries, followed by the transportation industry, the building sector represents the ideal place to increase energy efficiency, thereby providing the largest opportunity to reduce carbon emissions. It is estimated that if buildings implemented strategies to reduce their energy consumption, they could meet 85 percent of future U.S. demand for energy, lessening our dependence on foreign fossil fuel.
Additionally, with the construction industry being 15 percent of GDP per year, a significant source of the US economy, the “Better Buildings Initiative” will become a financial mechanism to spur “green” construction, which at a minimum helps to keep our skilled construction workforce employed and creates additional opportunities. The construction industry is one industry that cannot outsource jobs. With more and more organizations wanting to reduce energy and integrate renewable energy technologies into their facilities, the “Better Buildings Initiative” plan allows for educational opportunities for tradesmen to further enhance their skills.
At Miron, sustainability is one of our key values and is inherently part of our corporate culture. As one of Wisconsin’s largest general contractors, we feel it is our responsibility to lead by example to demonstrate our corporate responsibility as well as the benefits of the triple bottom line: enhancing the health and well-being of people, reducing environmental impacts, including carbon emissions, and payback, meaning there needs to be a measureable financial benefit.
We are able to demonstrate our commitment to sustainability by using the United States Green Building Council‘s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating systems as a road map to implementing, measuring and verifying green building design and construction strategies. LEED-certified buildings are third-party validated holistic, high-quality, environmentally-friendly and resource-efficient buildings. In all, Miron’s LEED portfolio includes 9 projects that have been awarded Silver LEED certification, 5 that have received Gold, 1 that has received Platinum and 24 additional projects are in various stages of obtaining LEED certification.
Among our recent LEED certified buildings are the Aspirus Newborn Intensive Care Unit in Wausau, Iowa State University’s King Pavilion for the school’s College of Design and the Iowa City Fire Station #2. I encourage you to take a look at some of our other energy efficient projects by clicking here to see some of the fantastic energy-efficient and renewable projects Miron has had the pleasure of working on.
Miron will continue to integrate sustainability throughout our business practices, construction operations and into the daily lives of our employees. We will help advance the goals of the President’s initiative and USGBC’s mission to help reach the 20 percent increase in energy efficiency by the 2020 goal.