Governor Jim Doyle has signed an Executive Order requiring all state buildings to conform to high environmental and energy efficiency standards. The order will affect both existing buildings and future construction.

“In Wisconsin, we are on the cutting-edge of energy innovation – with the most forward looking and balanced energy policy anywhere in the Midwest, and a strong commitment to renewable energy,” Governor Doyle said.

“And as part of that effort, I want the state to lead by example. This Executive Order will make sure that our state buildings are a model for the rest of the state in energy conservation, and save us millions in the process.”

Part of the Conserve Wisconsin Agenda Governor Doyle announced last year, the “Green Building” standards are designed to use renewable energy sources and recycled materials, as well as establish water efficiency standards. In 2004, the state spent $127 million on energy.

Implementing high performance green building standards will cut the costs of operating and maintaining the state’s 6,300 buildings while conserving energy, water, materials, and land, and improving the health of state workers. The effort once fully implemented will save the state as much as 30 percent on its energy bill. This translates to more than $30 million in annual savings for Wisconsin taxpayers – if not more.

The Executive Order directs the Department of Administration to establish standards based on the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification – which distinguishes building projects that have demonstrated a commitment to sustainability by meeting the highest performance standards.

Over the next few years, the state will be assessing all of the buildings in state government to determine how best to meet these standards. The guidelines will apply to every aspect of the construction process, as well as retrofitting existing buildings. They will ensure the state is achieving sustainable operation and maintenance such as: green cleaning, green purchasing, waste reduction and recycling, pollution prevention, energy and water efficiency, and light pollution.

Wisconsin has already seen the success of these standards in Wisconsin’s first “green” state office building, the Department of Natural Resources’ Northeast Regional Headquarters in Green Bay. Included in the design improvements were efforts to take advantage of daylight, maximize the use of recycled materials and recycle waste, and minimize the building’s footprint on its surrounding environment.

The state invested $70,000 to improve the design of this building – but it is estimated the improvements should save the state $500,000 over a 20 year period. This building is a great example of how a relatively small investment can have tremendous economic and environmental benefits. Through the Green Buildings Executive Order, the state will multiply these savings as similar investments are made in buildings throughout state government.